Bradfield St Clare: Angry dad broke rival football player’s jaw in pitch attack

A FATHER who ran on to a football pitch during a game and broke a player’s jaw after mistakenly thinking he had attacked his son has received a suspended prison sentence.

Brian Harper saw his son Tony, who plays for Cockfield, and Gareth Hollands, from AFC Hardwick, “squaring up” to each other and then saw his son fall backwards on to the ground, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Thinking his son had been assaulted Brian Harper, who was a substitute for Cockfield – the home team – ran ten yards on to the pitch and punched Mr Hollands in the face. Mr Hollands felt a hard blow and realised his jaw was broken, said Michael Crimp, prosecuting.

Mr Hollands, who said he was “in agony”, was taken to hospital and underwent surgery to have wires and plates inserted in his jaw.

In the lead-up to the incident, Mr Hollands was “barged” and Tony Harper had stood with their foreheads touching and as Mr Hollands was about to walk away Tony Harper had jerked his head back and fallen down.

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Mr Crimp said Mr Hollands had been surprised as he hadn’t done anything to cause him to fall.

Brian Harper, 40, of Bradfield St George Road, Bradfield St Clare, admitted inflicting grievous bodily harm on Mr Hollands last year and was given a 12-month prison sentence suspended for 18 months and ordered to do 280 hours unpaid work in the community.

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He was also made the subject of a six-month curfew on Saturday and Sunday between 9am -9pm and from 6-11pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. He was also ordered to pay �800 costs and �1,500 compensation to Mr Hollands.

Jude Durr, for Brian Harper, said his client deeply regretted what happened and felt genuine remorse.

He said Mr Hollands had made a good recovery and still played football while the defendant faced a football ban and had no plans to play again.

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