Page last updated at 18:24 GMT, Monday, 30 March 2009 19:24 UK

Rugby star behind bars for attack

Ben Cockayne
Cockayne signed a three-year deal with Hull KR in August

Rugby league star Ben Cockayne is behind bars after a court heard details of his part in an "appalling" assault.

The Hull KR fullback, 25, and Steven Hayward, 20, a part-time player with Castleford Tigers reserves, kicked and punched a man in Normanton in 2007.

Cockayne, of Shaw Close, Normanton, and Hayward, of George Street, Altofts, admitted assault causing actual bodily harm last year.

The men were remanded in custody ahead of their sentencing on Thursday.

The judge at Leeds Crown Court, Alistair McCallum, said he wanted more time to consider the sentences.

He told the pair: "On the face of it at the moment I am thinking of a custodial sentence for both of you."

I am sure there can be no mitigation that can address this issue
Cockayne's counsel Christopher Dunn

The court saw CCTV footage which showed Cockayne and Hayward kicking and punching Kiel Thompson on Market Street, in Normanton town centre, after an argument broke out in a local pub.

Mr Thompson suffered bruising and swelling to his face, grazes to his body and bruised ribs in the attack, the court heard.

The footage showed Cockayne and Hayward among a group of men arguing with Mr Thompson in the street, before Mr Thompson punched a member of their group, knocking him to the floor.

'Common thug'

Hayward could then be seen hitting the victim, chasing him across the street, where the video showed Mr Thompson on the floor, being kicked and punched by several men, as Cockayne aimed blows at his head.

Cockayne's counsel, Christopher Dunn, said seeing Mr Thompson hit his friend had provoked flashbacks to the Super League player's service in Iraq.

He said: "The view my lay client had of the incident had a particular effect on him given his background. He has served his country with distinction in Iraq."

Mr Dunn said his client's personal life was "in tatters" as a result of the assault, and his rugby league career was hanging in the balance.

"To see a rising star behave in a way that is no better than a common thug...is appalling, and I am sure there can be no mitigation that can address this issue," he said.

Cockayne began his rugby league career with amateur team Normanton Knights before he was signed to Hull Kingston Rovers, helping them win promotion to the Super League for the 2007 season.



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