A WIGAN rugby star who broke his friend’s jaw during a drunken row has walked free from court.
A judge heard that, as a result of landing the blows, former Warriors ace Martin Aspinwall dislocated his own shoulder and was unable to play rugby for six months.
Trouble flared between Aspinwall, who played for Great Britain in 2006 and is now a second-row forward at Castleford Tigers, and his victim, Robert Jackson, in the Walkabout Bar in Wigan’s King Street, after a row about Aspinwall’s agent.
Aspinwall, who was then playing for the Huddersfield Giants, was critical of his agent, whose software company employed Mr Jackson as an assistant, and thought he was not doing enough for him.
The two men, who had been friends since their childhood rugby playing days, had had an amicable conversation at the bar earlier that night, July 17 last year, but half-an-hour later when they again met at the bar Aspinwall “appeared to be aggressive” towards him, prosecutor Peter Barr told Liverpool Crown Court.
He began to criticise the agent and referred to him in abusive terms. Mr Jackson tried to defend his employer, that he was a good bloke and the defendant was out of order criticising him in public like that.
But Aspinwall, of Stirling Avenue, Ince, continued to use abusive language both about the agent and Mr Jackson.
Mr Barr said the victim pointed out: “‘Common sense tells me that if you are playing well, clubs will be lining up to contact you, and obviously if playing c**p you have to look to yourself.’
“As a result of that exchange, Aspinwall stood back and punched him very firmly to the face twice,” said Mr Barr.
Mr Jackson was taken to the A&E department at Warrington Hospital where it was found he had suffered a fractured left jaw. In the early hours of that morning, July 18, Aspinwall sent a text message to Mr Jackson saying: “Jacko, it’s Aspi. Sorry about last night. I didn’t mean to do that to you. I hope you are okay. It would be good to hear from you when things are sorted.”
When Aspinwall, 29, was arrested and interviewed he made no comment, but pleaded guilty to assault causing actual bodily harm at an early court hearing.
Liverpool Crown Court heard that at the time, Aspinwall was taking medication prescribed by a consultant for anxiety.
Imposing an eight-month jail sentence suspended for two years Judge Robert Warnock said: “This was a drunken incident when you should not have been drinking alcohol. You seriously injured a friend.
“Fortunately, and purely by luck, the injury has not produced long-term disability. I am told this matter is based on anxiety. I am anxious that the public are protected from you in the context of this sort of violence.”
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