A professional rugby league player has been ordered to pay £5,000 compensation to a man he floored with a punch while on a night out in Huddersfield.
Leeds Crown Court heard today the blow struck by Nathan Chappell, outside a takeaway in Cross Church Street, fractured the eye socket of his victim Dwain Marten and knocked him to the pavement where he struck his head, causing bleeding on his brain.
The assault by 26-year-old Chappell, who has previously played for teams including Huddersfield Giants, Featherstone Rovers and Sheffield Eagles, was captured on CCTV which was shown in court.
Jonathan Sharp, prosecuting, said the incident had begun in the early hours of June 12 when a girl in Mr Marten’s group complained she had been touched inappropriately.
She complained to her boyfriend and he protested to others which led to a group gathering and two men approached that group asking why they were “kicking off.”
He told the court Chappell was not involved in the earlier incident but then joined in and when there was some pushing and shoving he suddenly punched Mr Marten.
“It was a severe and significant blow assisted by the fact Mr Chappell is a rugby player,” said Mr Sharp.
Mr Marten spent two days in hospital, has suffered some permanent damage to his vision and now has to wear glasses.
Mr Sharp said the complainant also described suffering panic attacks since that night and no longer liked to go out at night. His father had also abandoned plans to move to Spain because of the injury to his son.
Chappell was later arrested at his home in Moor Lane, Netherton.
Richard Holland, representing him, said Chappell could not explain why he acted as he had and had expressed genuine remorse.
Mr Holland said: “He had been drinking and he has had difficulty piecing it together what he was doing. He had become concerned for some reason and stepped in with a single left handed punch.”
He said Chappell had an unblemished record and was of positive good character with references. He had been signed to play for Oldham RLFC next season and had also been offered a job with a furniture company which would give him the opportunity to pay compensation.
Chappell admitted unlawful wounding and was given an eight month prison sentence suspended for two years with 240 hours unpaid work in addition to the compensation.
The Recorder of Leeds Judge Peter Collier QC said often such incidents resulted in the tragic death of the victim.
He said: “Had that happened nothing could have saved you a significant prison sentence.”
But he said in light of his previous good character and that it was a single blow the sentence could be suspended.
Chappell, who began playing at Newsome Panthers as a young boy was signed by Huddersfield Giants before going on to play at Castleford, Featherstone, in Australia for the Goulborn Workers Bulldogs before returning to Featherstone and then Sheffield Eagles.