Northampton goalkeeper who fractured opposition player’s jaw narrowly avoids jail sentence

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A Sunday league goalkeeper who fractured the jaw of an opposition player after he punched him has been ordered to pay £1,500 compensation.

Lee Dickens, aged 29, was playing for Northampton Windmill Warriors against Midshire Electrical FC when he became involved in a dispute between the two sets of players after the award of a penalty.

Northampton Crown Court heard Dickens punched an opposition player on the side of the head as he was walking away from him during the match on March 8 last year.

Lynsey Knott, prosecuting, said the victim felt “dazed and stunned” and was unable to finish the game.

After going to hospital, X-rays revealed his jaw was fractured in two places. A metal plate was inserted in his jaw to stabilise the fracture.

Ms Knott said he was unable to eat for six weeks and had to take a month off work.

The court heard the victim still has pain in his jaw and numbness in his gums.

Dickens appeared at crown court for sentencing after pleading guilty to a charge of causing grievous bodily harm.

Matthew Kirk, mitigating, said his client felt “genuine, huge remorse” for what he had done.

Her Honour Judge Adrienne Lucking said Dickens had launched a “cowardly” attack on his victim but said she believed it was in the public interest to give him a suspended sentence so he could maintain his employment and pay compensation.

Dickens, of Malcolm Drive, St James, Northampton, was sentenced to one year in prison, suspended for two years.

He must complete 250 hours work and pay £1,500 compensation as well as £1,100 court costs.

Judge Lucking said: “You were very, very close to going to custody. Have no doubt that if you do anything like this again that is where you will be going.”