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Footballer could face jail

PUBLISHED: 19:09 24 April 2003 | UPDATED: 13:46 03 March 2010

VIOLENT amateur footballer Andrew Coote is facing the possibility of jail today after a vicious attack left a referee hospitalised.

The 22-year-old, of Radcliffe Drive, Ipswich, was playing for Belstead Arms in the Select Technical Services Sunday League when violence erupted in a match against St Clement's.

VIOLENT amateur footballer Andrew Coote is facing the possibility of jail today after a vicious attack left a referee hospitalised.

The 22-year-old, of Radcliffe Drive, Ipswich, was playing for Belstead Arms in the Select Technical Services Sunday League when violence erupted in a match against St Clement's.

The bad-tempered game, on April 6, was abandoned after Coote kicked ref Christopher Dale in the stomach leaving him writhing in agony on the ground.

Appearing before South East Suffolk Magistrates' court, the self-employed roofer pleaded guilty to assault causing actual bodily harm but had his sentencing adjourned until May 14.

Chairwoman of the bench Kate Redmond warned Coote all options would be considered, including custody.

"This is a very serious offence, she said. "I'm sure as a footballer you know how hard football boots are.

"I know football does get heated but it's only a game. People who volunteer their services as a referee shouldn't be put in hospital for two days."

Mr Dale, of Elmcroft Road, Ipswich, suffered severe internal bruising and needed painkillers following the attack, which happened at the King George V Field, off Old Norwich Road, Ipswich.

The court heard there was a great deal of "ill feeling" between the players of both sides and this resulted in a number of cards being waved during the match.

Coote, who was formerly in the army, had earlier been booked for "arguing" with one of his team mates, although he felt it was a "harsh" decision.

Later in the match, Coote was booked again after a tackle. He believed the referee had "lost control" of the match and that opposition supporters had influenced the referee into sending him off.

After initially walking away from the scene, Coote returned to where the referee was standing and committed the assault.

Mitigating for the former Stoke High School pupil, Claire Hullock said he had initially approached the area to calm things down after seeing his brother "had hold" of the referee.

She added: "Unfortunately, he lost his temper. Mr Coote is deeply, deeply ashamed about what happened and is sorry for what he did.

"After the match, he went to the police station voluntarily and made full admissions. He also immediately wrote to Mr Dale – who he respects as a referee – to apologise."

Mr Dale, of Elmcroft Road, Ipswich, declined to comment today.


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