A Premier League footballer walked free from court today after admitting lashing out at four people in a nightclub.
West Bromwich Albion player Joe Mattock, 20, was given a suspended sentence for punching two men and two women in Liquid Envy in Church Gate, Leicester, on August 30, 2009.
Leicester Crown Court heard that Mattock, who was 19 at the time, hit out after he was given "grief" over a transfer from Leicester City.
The Leicester-born player joined West Brom last August for £1 million, causing anger among many Leicester fans.
The defender, of Grove Road, Leicester, pleaded guilty to a charge of affray at Leicester Crown Court in July.
Today, at the same court, he was handed 10 months detention, suspended for two years. He was also ordered to complete 150 hours of unpaid work, and to pay £1,500 costs.
Judge Michael Pert QC told the footballer: "You plainly worked hard at your craft and were a successful professional footballer.
"The plain fact of the matter is you were earning what most people would regard as a king's ransom.
"If the price of that is to take some stick in a nightclub in your home city when you had left Leicester for another club, frankly you should have been able to handle it.
"It's plain from what we have seen that you were not able to handle whatever was said to you on that occasion and your behaviour was disgraceful."
"Late-night violence in the city centre is always treated seriously by this court," the judge said.
He told Mattock he would not be awarding compensation to his victims, but added: "You are a very wealthy young man and your victims can pursue you for proper compensation in another court, and that is what I think they should do."
The incident, described by the judge as an "explosive few moments", was captured on CCTV cameras in the Liquid Envy nightclub.
The court heard that Mattock got talking to one of the victims at the bar, when her boyfriend approached him and was seen to say something to him, sparking Mattock to throw a punch.
He then also hit the woman, and CCTV footage showed him hitting another woman and man.
Prosecutor James Thomas told the court the footballer left the club "fairly swiftly", then swapped his T-shirt with a friend to avoid being spotted.
But two days later, on September 1, Mattock handed himself in to police.
"During the course of that interview he said he had been having some grief during the course of that evening from a female about moving from one club to another," Mr Thomas said.
"The defendant had played for Leicester City and had recently transferred to West Bromwich."
Mr Thomas said Mattock told officers he had hit the first man with the palm of his hand and claimed he was then hit from behind, prompting him to lash out with his head down.
He said it was only afterwards that he realised he had hit a woman.
The prosecutor told the court all four victims were knocked to the ground. Some suffered cut lips, while one of the women had a bruised cheekbone and a black eye.
Mattock was originally due to stand trial charged with four counts of assault and doing an act tending and intended to pervert the course of justice.
But today not-guilty verdicts were recorded in all five counts, as he had pleaded guilty to affray.
Stuart Driver QC, mitigating, told the court Mattock, who had no previous convictions or cautions, was filled with remorse and shame.
He said: "This morning Joe Mattock appears in front of you convicted, ashamed, and rightly fearful about what may happen.
"A year ago, almost to the day, when he entered that nightclub in his home city he was a teenager of impeccable character. No convictions, no cautions, no reprimands, never been in trouble."
He said the footballer's behaviour that night was completely out of character.
The court heard several references had been given, including one from England Under-21 manager Stuart Pearce, who said Mattock had represented his country 44 times at under-16 and under-19 level, and five times at under-21 level.
Pearce said the defender was the second youngest boy ever to be selected for the national under-21 team, Mr Driver said.
He said Leicester City academy manager Jon Rudkin, who had known Mattock since the age of 11, said: "Throughout his time with us we had no disciplinary issues or problems."
Mr Driver told the court: "The entire picture is positive, sober and healthy. So what went wrong?
"In this, his home city, he was a celebrity, he was very well known and in the summer of last year the club decided to sell him, making itself a handsome profit, and his celebrity turned sour overnight."
Mr Driver said Mattock had been slapped round the back of the head in a shop earlier that week.
He said his father had texted him the day after the fight in Liquid Envy, saying: "Why did you go to that nightclub, you're the most hated person in Leicester?"
Mr Driver said Mattock lashed out because of the "things that were happened to him and around him".
But the judge replied: "Some might say that £10,000 a week was some consolation to the situation he found himself in!"
Mr Driver added: "It was a year ago and the difficulties, the being shouted at in the street, that sort of thing, have not gone away. In fact, the publicity of being prosecuted has added to it again.
"But the difference is he has learned from his mistake, he has learned how to cope with it and in the last 12 months he has not put a foot wrong.
"What happened in those few seconds was entirely out of character and the lesson has well and truly been learned.
"His career has stalled and suffered and the bright prospects of the early part of last season have somewhat faded, no doubt in part due to having this prosecution hanging over his head."
Mattock, who appeared in a black suit and white shirt, spoke only to reply "Yes, your honour" when asked if he understood the terms of his sentence. He gave no comment as he left the court with his father.