Leeds rugby league attacker ‘must stay in jail’

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A RUGBY player put behind bars after he punched his opposite number unconscious in an “off-the-ball incident” has failed in an Appeal Court bid for freedom.

Paul Brian Brown, 20, punched David Tidman during a match between West Park Leeds Lions Thirds and Ilkley Thirds in September 2008, causing damage to his eye socket that could have blinded him in one eye.

Brown, of Heathfield Terrace, Headingley, Leeds, was sentenced to 12 months in a young offenders’ institution at Leeds Crown Court last December after he was convicted of causing grievous bodily harm.

Three senior judges at London’s Court of Appeal rejected appeals from Brown’s lawyers that his detention term was “manifestly excessive” and upheld the sentence.

Sir Anthony May told the court Brown was 18 and playing his first game in the men’s XV when the attack happened.

During the second half, Brown ran at then 35-year-old Mr Tidman, who was playing opposite him in the scrum, and punched him once to the face.

Mr Tidman fell unconscious to the ground and the game was abandoned after he was taken to hospital with a severely swollen eye.

Mr Tidman suffered from double vision for some time after the attack and later needed bone to be grafted onto his eye socket to stop his eye falling back into his head.

Brown, who has not played rugby since the incident, continues to deny the attack, which he claimed was carried out by another player.

Lawyers for Brown told judges his conviction had cost him his place at Leeds Metropolitan University and left him a “changed character, with broken spirits and a future ruined”.

They claimed the 12-month detention term was too long considering Brown was of previous good character and still a teenager at the time of the incident.

But Sir Anthony, sitting with Mr Justice Bean and Mr Justice Eder, said the punishment was appropriate because Brown had never shown any remorse.

He told the court: “We have given this case serious thought.

“It is a tragedy for young Mr Brown that he so lost himself on this occasion on a rugby field as to, unprovoked, cause damage to somebody else who was playing.

“However, we do not consider that there is anything wrong with this sentence. It was not manifestly excessive and the appeal is dismissed,” said Sir Anthony.

Peter McNestry, chair of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust

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