Norfolk Sunday league goalkeeper jailed for punching referee

Aaron Wick Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Goalkeeper Aaron Wick "saw red" when a penalty was awarded to the opposing team

A goalkeeper who punched and knocked out a referee during a game has been jailed for 20 months.

Horsford United's Aaron Wick, 36, broke Karl Smith's eye socket in a Norfolk Sunday league game in September.

He admitted causing grievous bodily harm and has also been banned for life by the Football Association.

Mr Smith needed reconstructive surgery for his "flattened" face and still experiences pain, Norwich Crown Court heard.

Father-of-three Wick, of Staithe Street, Wells, was about to be shown the red card for being "aggressive" towards Mr Smith in the game against Feltwell FC.

'Shouting and swearing'

"The player repeatedly questioned his decisions, on occasion coming right up to the referee's face and shouting in it," said Ian James, prosecuting.

When Wick failed to save a penalty, he removed his gloves and punched Mr Smith.

"The last thing he [Mr Smith] was aware of was Mr Wick shouting and swearing at him," said Mr James.

"The next thing he remembered was a police officer leaning over him and asking if he was all right."

Image copyright Norfolk FA
Image caption Karl Smith still experiences pain following the attack, the court was told

He added: "When his 10-year-old daughter saw him she said he did not look like her daddy, she was very distressed, it broke her heart.

"She wouldn't come near him, which was upsetting for him."

'Appalling role model'

The court heard Wick attempted to drive out of the grounds but stayed and told police "I just saw red and was stupid".

He had four convictions for violence and a history of not complying with court orders.

Oliver Haswell, mitigating, said: "He was caught up in the spirit of the game and made a bad decision."

He said Wick was undergoing cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy for his aggression.

Judge Stephen Holt said: "You were an appalling role model for children, for anybody, to watch this sort of vicious behaviour towards a match referee.

"He has been left with lasting injuries and this has greatly affected him, his partner and his young children."

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