Footballer Michael Ricketts sorry for girlfriend attack
An ex-Premier League footballer told a court he was "really sorry" for headbutting and punching his girlfriend after an argument in a restaurant.
Former Bolton Wanderers striker Michael Ricketts had been celebrating his 32nd birthday when the row erupted in Amba Bar in Hale, Cheshire, in December.
Victim Nuala McEwan wrote to Trafford magistrates in his defence, claiming she intended her words to hurt him.
Ricketts, of Sutton Coldfield, admitted common assault.
The court heard that the pair, who remain a couple, had been drinking when they began talking about past relationships.
Alan Pope, prosecuting, said Ricketts had accused Ms McEwan of being involved with someone else and she ordered a taxi to leave.
When they got outside he punched and head-butted his girlfriend, who fell to the floor.
End Quote Michael Ricketts
I'm very disappointed about what happened and what it led to”
Police who arrived on the scene had to threaten him with a Taser stun gun when he continued to be aggressive, the court heard.
Ms McEwan, who was left with a cut eye, told the court in her letter that before the attack she said things which were "deliberately derogatory" and "intended to hurt him".
Bryan McMahon, defending, told magistrates: "There did seem to be some element of verbal altercation between the victim and Mr Ricketts. He should have walked away.
"There was an element of provocation. I don't say that, the victim says that. It is totally out of character."
Chris Hall, chairman of the bench, asked Ricketts if he had anything to say.
He replied: "I'm very disappointed about what happened and what it led to. I'm really sorry. Conversation stirred up a lot of emotions."Earnings 'vary'
Ricketts, who has been without a club for a year, started as a trainee at Walsall before signing for Bolton in 2000.
He made 98 appearances for the Trotters, scoring 35 league goals, before leaving the club for Middlesbrough in a £3.5m deal.
Ricketts played once for England in a friendly against Holland in 2002 and finished playing for his last club, Tranmere Rovers, in 2009.
He has also played for Leeds, Middlesbrough, Burnley, Preston, Stoke and Cardiff.
Asked about his potential earnings and his ability to pay the court costs, Ricketts said: "It depends on what club I play for. I have played for various clubs and various leagues... It could be anything from £60,000 to whatever."
Ricketts was sentenced to a 12-month community order, ordered to do 150 hours' unpaid work, fined £200 and ordered to pay £85 costs.