Violent RL player is spared jail

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AN AMATEUR rugby player who injured two other men in a bar has walked free from Liverpool Crown Court.

But Stuart Johnson was ordered to pay his victims a total of £2,000 compensation and also has a 10-month prison sentence hanging over him for the next 18 months.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that the violence took place in the Presidential Bar in Bolton Road, Ashton, on the evening of October 15, 2011.

Members of the Ashton Bears amateur rugby league were present including Kieran Spruce and while he was at the bar he was approached by Johnson, who said he played for Golborne Parkside.

They had a game lined up for the next week and Johnson made a comment which Mr Spruce did not understand and was confused about what was going on. He did not react but Mr Johnson became aggressive and when Mr Spruce turned away Johnson punched him once and he fell to the floor, said Geoffrey Lowe, prosecuting.

As he lay on the ground others kicked and punched him and another customer, Richard Taylor, tried to calm the situation down. While he was talking to two men involved in the violence “he received a heavy blow to his face causing him to drop his head.”

He had suffered a serious injury to his lip caused by an item, believed to have been a bottle, being hurled in his direction by Johnson.

Mr Taylor needed 18 stitches to his upper lip and suffered two chipped front teeth. Mr Spruce had a swollen and bruised left cheek and internal lacerations to his inside lip and cheek, said Mr O’Donohoe.

When interviewed Johnson admitted that he had drunk four or five vodka and Red Bulls and a couple of Jeigermeisters and felt tipsy.

Johnson, of Twist Avenue, Golborne, pleaded guilty to assault causing actual bodily harm and common assault.

Sentencing him Judge Denis Watson, QC, said: “It was entirely your drunken aggressive attitude that caused problems with Kieran Spruce.

“I am satisfied he was blameless and your punch was entirely unnecessary. That was the start of a serious incident.

“The fact that others joined in and you moved away is no consolation.

“Having moved away you then decided to throw a bottle into the crowd which caused a very unpleasant injury to Richard Taylor.”

The judge ordered Johnson to attend alcohol and New Direction Activity probation programmes and imposed an electronically monitored curfew between 8.15am and 6.45am for the next three months.

When he ordered him to pay Mr Spruce £250 compensation and £1,750 to Mr Taylor, Johnson stood in the dock shaking his head.

Paul Treble, defending, said that Johnson, who has a previous assault conviction when he was 17, “deeply regrets” his actions that night. His comment to Mr Spruce had been about his team going to “smash” their rivals the next week. He has changed since then and is now a family man with a young child and works hard as a roofer.