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Around The Uk

Monday, 25 September, 2000, 14:15 GMT 15:15 UK
Defender condemned for 'loss of control'
Gerard Lavin
Bristol City defender Gerard Lavin has been fined 1,000 for injuring a fan when he kicked a ball into the crowd in a "fit of pique".

Spectator Mark Stevens had to have his arm put in plaster after the ball was blasted at him from just 20 feet away at Reading's Madejski Stadium.

Judge Keith Bassingthwaighte condemned 26-year-old Lavin, saying his "loss of control" was a dereliction of his duty as a sportsman in the public eye.

Sentencing Lavin at Guildford Crown Court, he added: "This case is sad to see. Professional footballers have a position as role models for young boys and young men.

"If you act as you did in this position you fail. It's an abuse of the privileged life you lead."

Reckless

Lavin admitted common assault on Reading fan Stevens on August 7 last year on the basis of recklessness.

The prosecution accepted Lavin's plea of not guilty to a charge of causing actual bodily harm after agreeing that medical evidence could not prove that Stevens' wrist was fractured.

The court heard that Lavin lost his temper during the Division Two match against Reading on the opening day of the season.

Ian Acheson, prosecuting, said the incident was sparked when Reading fans clamoured for a Bristol City player to be sent of after a hard tackle left one of their team needing medical treatment.

Acheson said: "Lavin was waiting for the free-kick to be taken. It seems he teed it up and kicked it into the front row of the crowd at full force.

Violent

"This was a deliberate and violent blast from some 20 feet away.

"Mr Stevens thought it was going to strike his neighbour in the face. He put up his hand and it struck him on the wrist."


He kicked the ball at the hoardings in a fit of pique. He accepted the possibility that someone might be struck rather than the hoardings and, realising that, he struck the ball nonetheless
  Ian Acheson, prosecutor
A linesman saw the incident and told the referee, and Lavin was sent off.

The player told police after his arrest that he had been "frustrated" by the crowd's reaction.

Acheson added: "He kicked the ball at the hoardings in a fit of pique. He accepted the possibility that someone might be struck rather than the hoardings and, realising that, he struck the ball nonetheless."

Frustration

Peter Doyle, defending, said Lavin "unequivocally apologised" to Stevens and added: "It was a momentary and spontaneous act of frustration. No deliberate or calculated assault was intended.

"Mr Lavin and his family regret that this has been taking place at a time when the world and his own country is celebrating the excellence of achievement in sport."

He said Lavin, whose only previous conviction was for a drunken brawl in 1997 in London, had already suffered considerable punishment over the "uncharacteristic and impetuous" incident.

He was banned for five matches by his club and the Football Association, fined 1,000 by Bristol City and lost 1,500 in match bonuses.

The judge also ordered Lavin to pay 300 compensation to his victim and 327 costs.

Lavin refused to comment after the case.

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