Rugby star Craig Mitchell ordered to pay compensation to man he punched in Australian bar


A Wales rugby player who punched a man in an Australian hotel bar while celebrating a British and Irish Lions win must pay thousands of pounds in compensation to his victim.

Craig Mitchell, 27, who has represented his country in 15 rugby union tests, had travelled to Australia to watch the Lions Tour when the fight broke out on Sunday at the Normanby Hotel in Brisbane, following the British and Irish team's first test win against the country.

He was given a six month prison sentence suspended for two years and fined £1,180 over the attack, as well as ordered to pay £1,966 in compensation to lawyer Cian Barry.

Speaking at his sentencing today at Brisbane Magistrates' Court, he apologised to Mr Barry, saying: "My actions ... were totally unacceptable and unforgivable."

But after the case Mr Barry said Mitchell should have been jailed, and said the apology meant nothing.

The court was told Mr Barry had been trying to smooth over an altercation between his friends and a group of Lions supporters after some jovial sporting banter turned serious, the Associated Press reported.

He was first punched by Welsh tourist Richard Andrew Davies, and then by Mitchell, who travelled to Australia to watch the game after taking part in their two-Test series with Japan earlier this month.

Magistrate Anne Thacker yesterday fined Davies £654 and ordered him to pay Mr Barry £1,310 in compensation.

She told Mitchell he needed to be made an example of.

"It has to deter other Australians from this sort of behaviour at football matches," she said.

Mitchell's lawyer John Cook said he could not say what implications it would have for his client's playing career, but he had received his passport back and was free to leave the country.

"We're in a position now where he wants to head off, he's had a night in the watch house, he had very little sleep and was obviously very anxious because a term of imprisonment (was possible)," he said.

Mitchell, who admitted aggravated assault occasioning bodily harm, spent last night in custody ahead of his sentencing after he expressed reservations about paying compensation at short notice.

The prop joined Exeter from the Ospreys on an initial two-year contract in 2011, and signed a one-year extension to his deal with the Aviva Premiership club last season.

Exeter and the Welsh Rugby Union declined to comment on the matter when contacted by Press Association Sport.