Page last updated at 13:23 GMT, Thursday, 23 April 2009 14:23 UK

Rugby stars sentenced for assault

Stuart Reardon [left] and Leon Pryce
Stuart Reardon and Leon Pryce are both former Bradford Bulls players

Two Great Britain rugby players have avoided jail terms after admitting to an "astonishingly frightening" assault.

Ex-Warrington Wolves full-back Stuart Reardon, 27, admitted attacking his estranged wife Kay after finding out she was seeing another man.

He was given a 12-week suspended sentence by Bradford magistrates.

St Helens stand-off Leon Pryce, 27, was ordered to do 100 hours unpaid work for assaulting Mrs Reardon's new partner Damon O'Brien at his flat in Bradford.

Sentencing the former Bradford Bulls players, deputy district judge Alan Fowler described the assault, which happened last July, as "astonishingly frightening".

You were a professional rugby player. Your reputation has been seriously affected today
Judge Alan Fowler addressing Reardon

The court heard Reardon, whose contract with Warrington Wolves was terminated as a result of the incident, separated from his wife in February last year and began divorce proceedings in May.

But he was "heartbroken" when friends told him Mrs Reardon was having a relationship with Mr O'Brien.

The court was told Reardon, from Halifax, asked Pryce to accompany him to Mr O'Brien's flat so he could "see for himself".

The defendants, who had both been drinking, went to the flat but when neither Mrs Reardon nor Mr O'Brien opened the door, Reardon sent a text message to his wife's boyfriend, claiming their young son was in hospital.

He then charged the door, breaking the frame and the lock.

After shouting at his wife and calling her insulting names, Reardon grabbed her arm "momentarily", the court heard, causing three bruises.

Custodial sentence

Pryce, from Bradford, then pushed Mr O'Brien, who had armed himself with a rounders bat "for his own protection", causing him to stumble backwards and hit his head and neck on a pedal bin.

Judge Mr Fowler said Pryce went to the flat to help keep the peace and had not anticipated any violence.

But he said he should have left when Reardon forced open the door.

Pryce, who has a previous conviction for wounding, was ordered to pay Mr O'Brien £100 compensation and also told to pay £350 costs.

The court heard Reardon's "world had fallen apart" as a result of his conviction.

Sean Smith, mitigating for Reardon, said as well as his contract been terminated, a move to Hull FC fell through.

Sentencing Reardon, Mr Fowler said he believed a custodial sentence was appropriate but was prepared to suspend it for one year due to the circumstances.

He described the assault as "isolated" and said the rugby player was usually "an entirely respectable man".

He said: "You were a professional rugby player. Your reputation has been seriously affected today."

Reardon was also ordered to carry out 200 hours unpaid work, to pay £240 for the cost of the broken door and £150 compensation to his wife. He was also told to pay £350 costs.

Super League club St Helens will decide at their next board meeting whether to take any action against Pryce after his court appearance and sentence.



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