Latest case of footballer attacking opponent on the pitch highlights issue of severe consequences of violence in amateur sport

CRIMINAL LAW SOLICITOR Oliver Gardner is warning hot headed amateur sportsmen that a rush of blood can land them in jail after the latest case of a footballer striking out in the heat of play.

The case of Royal Marine Corporal William Patten, who assaulted an opponent during a match in February 2010, highlights the issue of on-field violence.

The judge has warned Patten, who has just been convicted that he faces jail for actual bodily harm, which can carry sentences of up to five years.

Patten left an opposition player needing surgery to fit a titanium rod in his mouth, and medical bills of more than £7,000 after being elbowed.

This is not the first time a player has been in jail for actions on the field of play.  In 2010, a player received a custodial sentence of six months for a premeditated tackle that shattered an opposition player’s leg.

The Football Association’s own internal figures show that match officials are also targets of violence.  In February 2011 there had already been 330 assaults on match officials, up from 260 at the same point on the previous year.

Other sports such as rugby and lacrosse are also not immune for on field assaults during amateur matches.

Oliver Gardner managing partner at Howards Solicitors comments: “Some sports people believe that what happens on the pitch, stays on the pitch, but that is simply not true.  The latest case shows that if you engage in violent actions, then there could be charges brought even if it is a contact sport.”

Gardner continues: “Remember the affects of a moment of madness can last a lifetime.  You don’t need to be imprisoned for an incident to come back to haunt you years later, perhaps when you are applying for an all-important job.  Even a caution can wreck life chances.”

William Patten will be sentenced on the 5th December.