6:00pm Friday 10th August 2012
By Staff reporter
A school governor who left an opponent with a double break to the jaw when he lashed out at him during a football match has been spared jail.
Lee Walters struck his opponent in the face so hard during the goal mouth incident that he needed to have three metal plates inserted in his jaw by surgeons.
But after hearing the 41-year-old had been active in the community and was sorry for what he had done a judge imposed a suspended sentence.
And despite hearing the father-of-three had an annual salary of more than £40,000 he gave him three months to come up with £500 compensation.
Susan Cavender, prosecuting, told Swindon Crown Court Walters was playing for Lower Stratton in an away game at Box Rovers when he assaulted home player James Lye.
She said: “There seemed to be some initial contact between the two: the victim describes there was someone behind him.
“As he ran past an opposition player his shirt was grabbed from behind. He shrugged him off and then felt a blow by the chin next to the mouth.
“Although he played on for a few minutes he was taken to the Royal United Hospital in Bath where it was found his jaw was broken in two places.”
He had to undergo operations to have one plate inserted on the right and two on the left side of the jaw, leaving him in hospital for three days and off work for four weeks.
A victim impact statement from Mr Lye told how he still had trouble with certain foods, but didn’t wish to see his attacker jailed because of his family commitments.
The game, in division one of the Wiltshire League at Box Recreation Ground on Saturday January 14, was won 6-1 by the home side.
Walters, of Crawley Avenue, Lower Stratton, pleaded guilty to a charge of grievous bodily harm.
Rob Ross, defending, said the incident was the sort of thing that happened on football pitches across the country every weekend.
“What doesn’t happened 99 times out of 100 as a consequence of a punch, elbow or kick is a serious incident doesn’t result. Everyone just gets on with the game,” he said.
“In this incident the punch connected in exactly the wrong place as far as the defendant is concerned and caused a break to the man’s jaw.”
He said he was keen to apologise to Mr Lye in what ever way he felt appropriate including seeing him in person.
As well as holding down a well paid job he said he had also been manager of the football team, run two marathons for charity and was also a governor at Grange Junior School.
Since the incident, for which the FA banned him from playing for 20 days, he said he had resigned that post and had now given up football completely.
Passing sentence Judge Douglas Field said: “People like you and your victim turn up to play football for fun, as a recreation.
“What he didn’t expect was to end the game with a broken jaw, then have operations and the lasting affects of this injury.
“Someone who lands a punch which results in a broken jaw can expect to go to prison.
“The very powerful personal mitigation allows me just to stop short of sending you to immediate custody, but only just.”
He imposed a six month jail term suspended for a year and told Walters to complete 200 hours of unpaid work for the community and pay £500 compensation.
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