CASTLEFORD Tigers’ star Richard Owen – who punched a man dressed in a Santa suit unconscious during a Christmas Day brawl – has pledged to “repay the community” for his actions.
The 22-year-old was given a 12-month suspended prison sentence and ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work at Leeds Crown Court on Friday for his part in the fight with three men outside Pontefract’s Big Fella’s nightclub on Beastfair.
After the hearing, Ron Hill, Owen’s manager, spoke on his behalf. He said: “Richard is obviously desperately disappointed he got involved with this, but Christmas is Christmas and things can get carried away. He is very pleased it has been dealt with now.
“Unfortunately someone was injured as a result. Richard will be doing his community service and hopefully he can repay the community by doing that.”
Recorder Richard Mansell told the court the “street brawl” had followed an earlier dispute between Owen, former team-mate Ben Blackmore and their friend Steven Hayes, and David Stevenson, Matthew Laycock and Jonathan Seward, who were all dressed in Santa Claus costumes, at the Green Dragon pub.
Mr Mansell said Owen stole Stevenson’s hat “as a joke or a prank” which resulted in Stevenson’s group following Owen’s group to Big Fella’s where the two parties began punching and wrestling with each other outside, in the early hours of Christmas Day.
Owen punched Laycock which left him unconscious with a broken jaw.
Mr Mansell said: “This was a stand out act of violence which was part of a very ugly scene. Owen was one of the three that stands out more than the others.
“He hit this man very hard, distinctively contributing to the jaw fracture but it has to be said the victim was willingly involved in the fight from the start.”
Owen pleaded guilty to affray and causing actual bodily harm. He was also ordered to pay £500 costs.
Sentencing Owen, Mr Mansell said: “It was an extremely ugly fight and in full view of the public who were enjoying a night out.
“There came a point when the six men were in pairs and facing each other and no violence was being offered.
“You then clearly attacked Laycock and punched him violently in the head and it is quite clear that caused him significant injury to his jaw. All six of you should feel ashamed of yourselves and particularly as you had quite a lot to lose.
“By delivering that punch you have come extremely close to losing your liberty, your job and your future.”
The five other men pleaded guilty to affray at a hearing at Leeds Crown Court last month.
Blackmore, 19, of Borrowdale Drive, Castleford, was given a six-month suspended prison sentence and 120 hours of unpaid work. Hayes, 22, of Queen’s Park Drive, Castleford, was given an eight-month suspended sentence and 150 hours of unpaid work. Seward, 23, of Weeland Road, Goole, received a six-month suspended sentence, 120 hours of unpaid work and £500 costs.
Stevenson, 30, of Baghill Lane, Pontefract, was given a 12-month community order, 100 hours unpaid work and £500 costs. Laycock, 25, of Bird Lane, Hensall, received a 12-month community order, 80 hours unpaid work and £500 costs.