Rugby player Andrew Ballard must pay £1,200 for boxing night attack

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The Independent Online

A professional rugby player who broke a man's jaw while dressed as a Chippendale stripper was today ordered to pay him £1,200 compensation.

Andrew Ballard thumped Liam Grundy three times during a fight on Boxing Night 2009 after Ballard threw a drink over himself which splashed his victim's girlfriend.

The former Wigan Warriors player was on a boozy evening out in the town when the row erupted.

Ballard, 24, who now plays for Championship side Barrow Raiders, admitted assaulting Mr Grundy - leaving him in hospital for three days where he had operations to insert two titanium plates in his face.

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

In the melee Ballard pushed Mr Grundy's girlfriend, Kathryn Gleeson, and bruised her arm.

He admitted assaulting her.

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

Ballard, who has no previous convictions and had never been cautioned or sent off in his career, turned himself into police custody and said he was acting in self defence.

He 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.

Today at Liverpool Crown Court, Ballard, of Lily Lane, Bamfurlong, Wigan, was also ordered to perform 250 hours' unpaid work and complete a 12-month community order.

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.

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.

"It was quite obvious to all concerned what was going to happen" when the trio left the nightclub, he said.