Beds, Herts & Bucks

Renhold footballer Nathan France sentenced after punch-up

A footballer who punched an opponent during a match, fracturing his jaw, has been given a suspended sentence.

Nathan France, 20, of Bedford, admitted wounding James Gauge at the match in Renhold, Bedfordshire, on 7 January.

Mr Gauge, who was playing for Caldecote A, needed surgery and a plate fitted.

France, playing for Renhold United Reserves, punched his opponent after being given a red card. He was given eight months' youth custody, suspended for a year, at Luton Crown Court.

The match had been fraught with "niggles" the court heard, and France and Mr Gauge had clashed earlier in the game.

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Threatened with a red card, France, of Ashmead Road, told the referee: "If you send me off, I am going to knock him out."

It was then he punched Mr Gauge, knocking him to the ground and breaking his jaw.

The court heard it had been a "heat of the moment" incident, and France had, until this point, been of good character.

He was said to be deeply remorseful for his actions and wanted to apologise to his victim.

As well as a suspended sentence, France, who appeared in court on Friday, was ordered to pay his victim £1,800 in compensation and told he would have to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work.

Renhold United Reserves and Caldecote A play in Division Three of the Bedfordshire County Football League.

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