‘He doesn’t look like daddy’ - Daughter of referee didn’t recognise him after goalkeeper attack

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

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

The daughter of a referee who suffered a broken eye socket after he was knocked out by a goalkeeper in a match did not recognise her dad, a court has heard.

Horsford United keeper Aaron Wick, 36, punched Karl Smith so hard he knocked him unconscious, during his team's Central and South Norfolk League clash against Feltwell on September 22 last year.

Norwich Crown Court heard the attack came after Wick was about to be shown a red card.

Ian James, prosecuting, said the defendant had shown "animosity" to the referee even before the game had started.

He said Wick had "repeatedly questioned" decisions made by the referee during the game in an "aggressive manner", on occasions coming right up to the referee.

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Mr James said Wick, whose behaviour had been "unacceptable", was yellow carded in the first half although this "did not deter the defendant" who continued being aggressive.

When the referee awarded Feltwell a penalty in the second half Wick was "vocal in his complaint".

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After the penalty was scored, leaving Horsford United trailing 3-0, Mr James said he directed "foul language" towards the referee who was about to show him the red card and send him off.

At that point that the victim was struck and knocked unconscious.

Although the victim did not remember the attack Mr James said other players described the defendant "removing both his goalkeeping gloves and with his right hand punched the referee to the side of the face".

Wick initially tried to leave the field but later admitted his actions, telling police "I just saw red, I was stupid".

Mr Smith sustained fractures to his eye socket and suffered "flattening" to the left side of his face.

The court heard the referee was taken to hospital following the incident, which happened on the same day as his son's 15th birthday which he had to miss.

He needed to be fitted with a metal plate, which he will have to wear for life.

A victim impact statement read out in court by Mr James described how the victim's 10-year-old daughter did not recognise him when she saw him the day after the incident.

She was "very distressed" and said "he doesn't look like daddy".

The statement described how he felt "embarrassed of being out in public".

He did not feel able to referee in the aftermath of the incident, the court heard, although has done since, and is worried about the effect this has had on his partner and children.

Wick has been banned from the game for life by the FA following the incident.

Wick, of Staithe Street, Wells, who has 12 previous convictions for 14 offences, including some for violence, previously admitted an offence of inflicting grievous bodily harm.

Sentencing Wick, who has also competed as a wrestler, to 20 months in prison, Judge Stephen Holt described it as a "vicious attack" on the victim who was refereeing a football match.

He said Wick was an "appalling role model for children, for anyone, to watch this sort of vicious behaviour towards a match referee".

Judge Holt said nothing other than an immediate custodial sentence was possible, adding: ""People must understand if they attack referees causing serious injury then prison is inevitable."

He addedthere has to be a level of deterrence.

Oliver Haswell, mitigating, said through his plea Wick had accepted he was "in the wrong".

He said he hoped the court would accept that this "sorry, single blow" came following a contentious and passionate game the defendant had been involved in.

He described his "poor choice" as a "moment of madness" and a "spur of the moment" single blow.

Mr Haswell said the defendant had an argument with his ex-partner on the way to the game which did not help matters and he allowed the passion to "get the better of him" during the game.

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