Manchester

'Stripper' rugby player fined over fight in Wigan

Andrew Ballard
Image caption Andrew Ballard and Liam Grundy had arranged to fight

A rugby player who broke a man's jaw while dressed as a Chippendale has been told to pay him £1,200 compensation.

Andrew Ballard, 24, hit Liam Grundy so hard outside a Wigan nightclub on 26 December last year he needed two titanium plates inserted in his face.

Ballard, who plays rugby league for Barrow Raiders, had argued with Mr Grundy about a spilt drink earlier that night, Liverpool Crown Court heard.

Ballard, who pleaded guilty, was also told to perform 250 hours unpaid work.

The court heard the father-of-one and Mr Grundy, who plays rugby league for Rochdale Hornets, left the nightclub for a fight on a nearby car park.

All were in fancy dress, which is a Boxing Day tradition in Wigan.

Ballard was wearing a black bow tie and black trousers. Mr Grundy was dressed as a 1980s George Michael.

Never sent off

Sentencing, Judge Bryn Holloway, said the assaults were out of character for Ballard who is also training to become an electrician.

The judge said the CCTV footage was "illuminating" and painted a "different picture" from the headline case against the player.

He said it was "quite obvious to all concerned what was going to happen" when they left the nightclub along with Mr Grundy's girlfriend, Kathryn Gleeson.

In the melee that followed Ballard pushed Ms Gleeson and bruised her arm. He also admitted assaulting her.

Ballard, of Lily Lane, Bamfurlong, Wigan, had no previous convictions and had never been cautioned or sent off in his career.

He turned himself in to police and said he had been acting in self-defence.

The player originally denied the two assault charges but changed his plea after the court told him he would not go to jail if he admitted the offences.

His barrister, Paul Temple, said the two men had simply gone outside for a straightener in which his client won.

"He deeply regrets losing his good character, that this incident occurred and causing the injury," he said.

Mr Temple said the clash had "background" - in that Miss Gleeson was friends with Ballard's ex-partner.

Ballard was also ordered to complete a 12-month community order.

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