Rugby coach punched opposing player to the ground and stamped on his head during match in Leeds

The former soldier was handed a suspended sentence at Leeds Crown Court
The former soldier was handed a suspended sentence at Leeds Crown Court
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A rugby coach was branded a “coward and a bully” after being found guilty of punching an opponent to the ground and stamping on his head during a match in Leeds.

Former soldier Christopher Gilling knocked three of his victim’s teeth out in the attack during a rugby union game between Moortown and Castleford second teams.

A court heard Gilling was acting as second team coach for Castleford when he ran onto the pitch and attacked the Moortown player

The incident happened during a “scuffle” between players at the game at Moortown in March 16, 2016.

Leeds Crown Court heard the 34-year-old ran from the touchline and “blindsided” the victim with a punch from behind then kicked or stamped on his head as he was on the ground.

A jury heard Gilling then got into his car and drove off.

The victim lost three teeth and had to pay almost £7,000 in dental fees as a result of his injuries.

The court heard the incident also led to the victim stopping playing rugby.

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At the time of the attack Gilling was the subject to an eight-match ban, imposed by Yorkshire RFU, for punching an opponent and swearing at a referee when he was playing in a match then giving a false name in a bid to avoid punishment.

He was barred from having any involvement in any rugby match when he carried out the offence.

Gilling, of Woodside, Methley, was found guilty of assault occasioning actual bodily harm after a trial.

The court heard Woodside was a soldier for ten years, up until 2010, and had completed tours of Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo and Northern Ireland.

Gilling’s barrister Allan Armbrister handed letters of reference to the court, included one from the defendant’s former sergeant.

Mr Armbister said: “The defendant has an impeccable record and he is extremely well thought of.”

Mr Armbrister said Gilling now ran his own business which would suffer if he was sent to custody.

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Gilling was given a 21-month sentence, suspended for two years.

He was ordered to do 280 hours of unpaid work and pay £6,822 compensation victim.

Judge Robin Mairs said: “The core values of the British Army are courage, discipline, respect for others and integrity.

“The core values of rugby union are teamwork, respect, discipline and sportsmanship.

“I cannot think of a signal one of those core values which you did not besmirch.”

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The judge added: “The jury saw through your lies.

“You disgusted even your own men by your actions, such was the cowardice and such was the viciousness.

“There was no remorse. Only arrogance. Only a cowardly attempt to escape liability.

“You are a coward and a bully. Your actions were an utter disgrace to the British Army which you served with some distinction.

“Your actions were a disgrace to rugby union.”