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Belfast footballer jailed over racist attack on Polish neighbour

An up-and-coming footballer and another man have been jailed after carrying out a racist attack on a Polish neighbour following a 'drink and drugs binge'.

Ryan Newberry (23) was given a sentence of 18 months and David Wilton (25) jailed for 21 months at Belfast Crown Court today.

Judge Gordon Kerr QC declared that "attacks like this will not be tolerated".

Earlier he heard that footballer Newberry of Willowfield Walk in east Belfast, broke a window of a Polish woman's house and chased his victim, Damian Wesolowski from the house before he and Wilton beat him on the street on July 13, 2011.

The court heard "talented" Newberry, who had played junior football for Northern Ireland against Macedonia, and friend David Wilton from Carlingford Walk in the city, were partying in Wilton's grandmother's house with others.

The pair gave chase after Wilton heard noises at the back of the house and spotted a man running away.

A prosecuting lawyer had earlier described how Wilton previously expressed animosity towards Wesolowski and along with Newberry, had attacked a house in nearby Killowen Street being rented by Polish tenants where they suspected the man had hidden.

Wilton admitted kicking in a door at the house and chasing his victim into the street while Newberry had broken the living room window and that they had jointly beaten their victim about the head and face, leaving him lying in the street.

Mr Wesolowski was left with "significant" injuries lying on the ground semi-conscious with lacerations about his nose and mouth, suspected fractures and multiple bruising on his head and body and that when police arrived Newberry ran off while instigator Wilton resisted arrest, hurling threatening and sectarian abuse at one of the officers.

A number of weapons were recovered at the scene including knives and a brush shaft, though the attackers denied they had brought them to the scene or used them in the assault.

The pair admitted having been on a "drink and drugs binge" prior to the attack, with Newberry saying he had little recollection of the incident except for the initial chase as he'd "been on drink and Diazepam for days" leading up to the attack.

The court also heard Newberry gave himself up to police shortly after, upon hearing his friend had been arrested and had expressed some regret for his victim.

Both men pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm, burglary with intent to cause damage and causing criminal damage.

Wilton admitted to a further charge of assaulting police.

In sentencing the pair Judge Kerr told the court "there were no mitigating factors" in an attack which he felt had "severe racist and sectarian overtones".

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