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Referee maimed for life in brutal attack by goalkeeper

PUBLISHED: 07:48 26 March 2019 | UPDATED: 11:59 27 March 2019

Aaron Wick leaving court after admitting a wounding charge  Picture: Archant

Aaron Wick leaving court after admitting a wounding charge Picture: Archant

Archant

A goalkeeper could be jailed for an attack which maimed a referee for life.

Horsford keeper Aaron Wick punched Karl Smith so hard he knocked him unconscious, during his team’s Anglian Combination 4th Division match against Feltwell on September 22.



Today Wick, 36 of Staithe Street, Wells, admitted wounding and inflicting grievous bodily harm at King’s Lynn magistrates.



Jane Walker, prosecuting, said the attack came in a dispute over a red card.



She said Mr Smith was taken to hospital, where he needed to be fitted with a metal plate which he would have to wear for life.



Ms Walker said Wick had previous convictions for violence.



Sentencing guidelines said if convicted, he would be jailed for up to three years.



In mitigation Ruth Johnson, for Wick, said he had admitted the attack from the outset.



“He describes how he simply lost his temper in that flash moment,” she said.



Miss Johnson said Wick had been undergoing hypnotherapy to address his anger management and that had been helpful, but he had had to discontinue the treatment because he could not afford it.



She added she hoped a custodial sentence could be avoided and Wick given the treatment he needed.



READ MORE: ‘I’ve been slapped and stamped on’- an insight into life as a football referee in Norfolk



A reference from Wick’s employer - a local gastro pub - was shown to magistrates before they retired briefly to consider the case.



Chair of the bench Louise Barber said the significance of the injury meant the case would have to be sent to crown court for sentence.



Earlier, the court heard Wick had already been subject to an FA disciplinary commission, which had banned him from the game for life.



The referee’s report said Wick was cautioned and given a yellow card early in the game and was abusive towards Mr Smith. It said he continually complained about the referee’s decisions.



The attack happened after Feltwell went 3-0 up. Mr Smith said in his report: “[The] Feltwell player took the penalty and scored upon which the goalkeeper used foul language towards me. I cannot remember what was said but I remember making a note in my notebook to record the score, the next thing I remember is a policeman kneeling next to me asking if I was OK.”



Wick submitted a letter of apology and his own version of events. It said: “I saw red rage and struck the referee to the left side of the face. As he fell to the floor, the realisation of what I had done hit me and I asked people on the sideline for the phone to call the ambulance.



“I asked Feltwell players for a phone because mine was in the changing room and was told it had already been called along with the police.”



Wick had faced a previous disciplinary for “physical contact against a match official” for which he had been suspended for 134 days and fined £75.



The commission voted unanimously to suspend him from all football for life. Wick will be sentenced by the court at a date to be fixed.

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READ MORE: Fans barricaded violent goalkeeper in dressing room after referee assault

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