Football player fined after red card referee attacked

Stephen Roberts. PIC: Ross Parry

Stephen Roberts. PIC: Ross Parry

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A football referee suffered a fractured cheekbone and nose after being punched repeatedly by a player he showed a red card to during a five-a-side match.

Robert Ingham had to undergo surgery to have metal plates fitted to his face after Stephen Roberts’ cowardly attack at the John Charles sports centre in Leeds.

Leeds Crown Court heard Roberts had to be dragged away by other players after leaving the official covered in blood.

Ingham was given a suspended prison sentence, and ordered to pay Mr Ingham £2,000 compensation and go on an anger management course after he pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm.

Judge Tom Bayliss, QC, told Roberts: “You, by your actions, bring shame on the name of sport. Those who officiate football matches do so in order to give pleasure to others.

“They do it for no money and they expect and they deserve respect.”

“You are not a sportsman. You are a thug who lost his temper and assaulted a man – a hard-working man – and caused him injuries that have left him vulnerable, unable to sleep and emotionally affected. It was absolutely disgusting behaviour.”

The incident happened after Mr Ingham blew his whistle and gave a foul when Roberts tackled an opponent.

Roberts handed himself in to police shortly after the attack on August 23 last year.

Philip Adams, prosecuting, said: “During the course of the interview he explained that the referee’s decision was wrong.

“As he went towards him he was shown the red card, lost his temper and lashed out until he was pulled away by another player.”

A player on the opposing team said Roberts used a clenched fist to aim at least three “big swings” at Mr Ingham.

The referee was wearing glasses at the time of the attack and they flew to the floor.

Lorry driver Mr Ingham was unable to return to work more than a month after the attack.

He suffered fractures to his cheek bone, eye socket and nose and had to undergo an operation.

Mr Adams said he had been badly affected and had trouble sleeping.

Roberts, of St Luke’s Road, Beeston, was given a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for two years. He was also ordered to do 100 hours unpaid work and made the subject of a curfew, between the hours of 7pm and 7am, for six months.

Roberts will also have to attend a 30-day programme which will include an anger management course.

Stuart Field, mitigating, said Roberts had acted out of character, had no previous convictions and was ashamed of his behaviour.

The lawyer said his client was from a loving, supporting and hard-working family and his sister was a serving police officer.

Mr Field said he had recently joined a new team and was playing only his fourth game for them when the attack happened.

He said Roberts had played football competitively from being a boy and had never reacted violently before. He added: “Without question this is a serious offence which resulted out of disgraceful and appalling behaviour, but behaviour that was uncharacteristic, which is bourne out by the defendant’s record, or lack of one.”

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