Chris Kirkland attack: Aaron Cawley jailed for pitch assault

Chris Kirkland Chris Kirkland required treatment after being knocked down

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A man has been jailed for running on to the pitch and attacking a goalkeeper during a Championship football match.

Sheffield Wednesday's Chris Kirkland, 31, required treatment after being struck in the face during Friday's game against Leeds United at Hillsborough.

Leeds fan Aaron Cawley, 21, from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, pleaded guilty at Sheffield Magistrates' Court to assault and entering the field.

He was given a 16-week jail sentence and a six-year football banning order.

Leeds United said the club intended to ban him from its Elland Road stadium for life.

'So drunk'

Kirkland, who has played once for England, was shoved in the face and fell to the ground moments after conceding an equaliser in the 76th minute of the match at Hillsborough, which finished in a 1-1 draw.

The court was told that Kirkland made a victim impact statement which said: "I feel shocked, upset and angry.

"I think the man is a thug and should be caught and put in jail. Anyone who supports what he's done is just as bad."

The court heard Cawley had been drinking heavily and had already breached two previous banning orders.

Start Quote

Our one disappointment is that we feel the sentence could, and should, have been considerably longer”

End Quote Leeds United Football Club

Prosecutor Paul Macauley said Cawley told police he had drunk a number of cans of lager and three-quarters of a litre of vodka before arriving in Sheffield and then had a further seven to 10 pints of cider.

Mr Macauley said he was "so drunk" he did not remember what happened, and only realised after seeing the footage.

District Judge Redhouse heard that Cawley emailed the police to say sorry and also emailed Sky Sports, which broadcast the match, in the hope his apology would be passed on to the two clubs and Kirkland.

A spokesman for Leeds United said: "We are pleased to see the matter dealt with by the courts so quickly.

"The club will also ban the individual for life from Elland Road when this banning order expires.

"While we are pleased to see justice brought so quickly, our one disappointment is that we feel the sentence could, and should, have been considerably longer."

Writing on Twitter, Angela Smith, the Labour MP for Penistone and Stockbridge, also criticised the sentence.

The MP, a Sheffield Wednesday fan, wrote: "16wks prison sentence for assaulting a goalkeeper & breaching a banning order? I am quite frankly astonished! #justicenotdone."

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