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Last Updated: Monday, 28 April, 2003, 12:32 GMT 13:32 UK
Footballer's pay out to firework victim
Luke Rodgers
Luke Rodgers said his main concern was for Miss Morris
Shrewsbury Town footballer Luke Rodgers has been ordered to carry out 100 hours community service and pay 5,000 in compensation after disfiguring a 16-year-old girl with a firework.

The 21-year-old admitted injuring Sarah Morris during a previous appearance at Warwick Crown Court.

Miss Morris was hit in the face by the firework outside the Spitfire Inn pub in Castle Bromwich on 10 October last year.

It stuck to her skin and exploded causing burns and scarring on one side of her face.

'Indescribable pain'

As a result, she has undergone physiotherapy for her injuries and a number of skin grafts.

Passing sentence on Monday, Judge Richard Cole told Rodgers that Miss Morris had suffered horrific injuries from which she will never fully recover.

We would not wish the experience or trauma of what happened to Sarah on another innocent child
Morris family

"The pain must have been indescribable but it's the long-term effect that is going to be of particular concern," he said.

"It perhaps could be said that it was a complete accident that it struck Miss Morris but the situation is that you chose to set off this rocket in that position without taking the relevant precautions for dealing with fireworks."

The judge added he hoped the sentence would act as a deterrent to other people tempted to let off fireworks in inappropriate circumstances.

In a statement read by West Midlands Police, the Morris family said: "From a young and vivacious teenager, Sarah's traumatic experience now means that she no longer has the full confidence of being in public places and has had the freedom normal to teenagers taken away from her."

The family said the government must act to stop a repeat of the tragedy, adding: "We would not wish the experience or trauma of what happened to Sarah on another innocent child.

Shock and pain

"Regardless of the outcome today, it will not completely heal the scars or erase the pain that Sarah has been through."

The court had heard Rodgers, of Hodge Hill, Birmingham, bought two rockets and launching tubes from a salesman who called at the pub.

One firework had flown out of control when he was testing it on the grass verge outside the pub, and travelled horizontally rather than vertically, striking Miss Morris, who was walking in the street a substantial distance from the pub.

The court heard it stuck to her skin and continued to burn and spark, causing her to fall to the ground screaming in shock and pain.

The main charge of the device then exploded, causing further injury and setting light to her jacket.

Rodgers immediately rushed to Miss Morris' aid, apologised to her and drove her to hospital, the court was told.

Outside the court, he told reporters his main concern was for Miss Morris.

"It was a complete accident," he said.

"I am glad it's all over, although it's never been about the sentencing, I was more concerned about Sarah Morris."




SEE ALSO:
Footballer admits firework attack
17 Mar 03  |  England
Footballer denies firework charge
23 Dec 02  |  England


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