Northern Ireland footballer in court over 'stamp on rival's head'
A 21-year-old amateur league footballer who allegedly stamped on another player's head during a match has been told he could face prison.
Aaron Taylor, from DeCourcy Park, Greyabbey, Co Down, appeared at Ards Magistrates Court.
He denied assault occasioning actual bodily harm upon Gary Hewitt during a match between his team Rosemount II and Civil Service II on March 18 last year.
Mr Hewitt, a centre forward for the visiting team, said he levelled the match at 2-2 in the 87th minute and ran into the goal area to collect the ball. He said the Rosemount goalkeeper tried to stop him and got him in a headlock.
He said the two of them fell to the ground and as he was on his back he saw a foot come down on him from another player.
Mr Hewitt claimed it was "a full-blown stamp, with full body weight" onto his left eye.
Another Civil Service player pulled him away and treated his eye, which was bleeding heavily. He required five stitches in hospital and was badly bruised.
The referee said he saw Taylor run from behind him into the net area. He told the court he shouted at the 21-year-old "get out of it, it has nothing to do with you", and as the centre forward lay helpless in a headlock he saw him receive a stamp to the face from Taylor.
All three players received red cards and the game was abandoned.
Asked by the prosecutor if he believed the contact came about accidentally as Taylor slipped on the ground into Mr Hewitt, he replied: "I would totally disagree with that."
He told the court he believed it was a deliberate stamp.
Taylor told the court he ran into the goal area with a number of other players to "split the scuffle". He said he was the first person to the net, but his right foot slipped and made contact with the centre forward's face.
He denied stamping on his opponent. The court heard he received a 10-match ban.
District Judge Mark Hamill said he was "giving no indication of a non-custodial sentence" as he adjourned the case to April 17.