TWO Castleford Tigers players were caught on camera brawling with a rival group dressed in Santa suits in the early hours of Christmas Day which left one man with a broken jaw.
Richard Owen, 22, and Ben Blackmore, 19, got involved in a fight with three men outside Big Fella’s nightclub on Beastfair, Pontefract, following an earlier incident at the Green Dragon pub, where one of the men – David Stevenson – had his Santa hat taken.
Mehran Nessiri, prosecuting, told Leeds Crown Court Tigers players Owen and Blackmore, along with their friend Steven Hayes, had spoken to Stevenson, Matthew Laycock and Jonathan Seward, who were all dressed in Santa Claus costumes, at the Green Dragon.
He said Stevenson’s hat was taken, and CCTV footage later showed Owen approaching the entrance to Big Fella’s wearing a Santa hat.
Stevenson’s group followed Owen’s group to the nightclub, and the two parties began punching and wrestling with each other outside, shortly after midnight on December 25.
The fight spilled into Beastfair, involving kicking and punching. Laycock was punched unconscious in a shop doorway, suffering a broken jaw.
Five of the men pleaded guilty to affray. Owen, of Lancaster Street, Airedale, still faces charges of affray and causing grievous bodily harm and will appear before the court again on November 6.
Owen, a former Featherstone Lions’ junior player, signed for Tigers in 2008 and wears the number one jersey for the team.
Blackmore, of Borrowdale Drive, Castleford, who has since left Castleford to join the academy at Huddersfield Giants, was given a six-month suspended prison sentence and 120 hours of unpaid work.
Recorder Richard Mansell said: “You should be ashamed of yourself. You play for a rugby club and will have received warnings about how you should behave in public.”
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.