No jail term despite assault at Welwyn Garden City football match

AN AGGRESSIVE reaction to a football tackle left one player with a fractured cheek bone and the other on the brink of a prison sentence.

But thanks to the magnanimous attitude of the victim Stuart Hurley, Steven Lengthorn was spared custody at Luton Crown Court on Tuesday.

Lengthorn, 30, pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm, but denied he had intentionally headbutted Mr Hurley.

Mr Hurley was consulted before the prosecution accepted the guilty plea on that basis.

Judge Richard Foster told Lengthorn: “You are very fortunate that he has been magnanimous and holds no bitterness towards you.”

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The judge said it was one of the reasons that he had been able to pass a community penalty rather than a custodial sentence.

Lengthorn, of Heyford Way, Hatfield, was given a 12-month community order with 200 hours unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay �600 compensation and was banned from playing in any organised football match for a year.

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Sean Minihan, prosecuting, said the incident occurred on November 15 last year at the King George V playing fields in WGC.

During a football match Mr Hurley tackled Lengthorn.

He said: “The defendant thought it was a dangerous tackle and accepts he behaved aggressively. He stood up and intended to push the other player but there was a clash of heads.

“Mr Hurley suffered a fractured cheek bone which required surgery.”

Nicholas James, defending, said: “As soon as he realised the extent of the injuries he made attempts to apologise. He did not set out to hurt him in any way.

“The effect of prison would be terrible for his family.”

Judge Foster told the defendant: “This was disgraceful behaviour. No provocation justifies the way you responded.”

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