An amateur footballer who broke an opponent's leg in two places during a Sunday league game has been jailed for six months.
Mark Chapman (20) of Long Lawford, Rugby, pleading guilty to maliciously inflicting grievous bodily harm on player Terry Johnson during the match last October.
Chapman was centre forward for the home team Long Lawford, while Mr Johnson played at left back for opponents Wheeltappers, who were leading 3-1 with just 20 seconds to go before the attack took place, Warwick Crown Court was told.
Chapman went in studs-first on an opponent after the ball had gone out of play seconds from the end of the game, breaking his leg in two places.
Prosecuting Iain Willis said: “The ball was running out of play in the Wheeltappers’ half and Terry Johnson was shadowing it out of play as it crossed the touchline.”
The experienced referee Stuart Ayres said that during the game Chapman, who was chasing after Mr Johnson, had been criticised by his team-mates for a lack of effort.
“The referee said Terry Johnson was clearly slowing down as he followed the ball out.
“The defendant continued to close in and used a stamping motion with a raised right foot, with the studs showing, on the back and side of his right leg.
“The referee said it was a callous deliberate act with intent to cause injury to the player.
“Both fell to the floor and Terry Johnson was badly injured with fractures of the tibia and fibula, and he required surgery to reconstruct his leg.”
The injured player had a large incision to his leg and will have to have a skin graft, the court heard. There is a chance that a steel rod inserted in his leg will have to remain there for life.
Mr Johnson later described the pain as ‘traumatic,’ and, as well as the realisation that he will not be able to play football again, he is self-employed and the work he has lost put “a severe financial burden” on him and his family.
“My life has been thrown into turmoil because of a crazy challenge,” he added.
Mr Willis said Chapman had no previous convictions, but had been disciplined a number of times for his behaviour on the football field for offences including dissent and unsporting behaviour - although not for violent conduct.
Lawrence Watts, defending, said: “Injuries like this are sometimes caused more by the angle of the force applied than the degree of the force.
“The difficulty is that the ball was on its way out of play and, for whatever reason, he lunged in a way which was inappropriate. We have seen it at the weekend on our televisions in the Arsenal match.”
But Judge Robert Orme responded: “This is quite a different situation. It is a deliberate act, a premeditated act. That distinguishes it from the incident to which you refer between Stoke City and Arsenal.
“A football match gives no-one any excuse to carry out wanton violence. What I am prepared to accept is that it was a quite crazy and mad challenge committed on the spur of the moment.”
The court heard that Chapman joined the Royal Army Medical Corps after leaving school but was medically discharged.
The Judge told Chapman: “There was no attempt to obtain the ball in any way. The result of what you did was that Mr Johnson suffered a badly broken leg. It horrified those who saw it.
“I accept you showed very early remorse, and there is substantial mitigation which can be put forward for you.
“But I have also had to consider the position of the victim and your very deliberate criminal act. It seems to me, I am afraid, that I have to send you into custody.”