Rugby man in court after punching friend in the face

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A Rugby man who punched a friend in the face, splitting his lip, during an incident at a pool match has been ordered to have counselling for his excessive drinking.

Javan Linehan had originally been charged with inflicting grievous bodily harm on his victim.

But on the day of his trial at Warwick Crown Court he pleaded guilty to an alternative charge of assaulting the victim causing him actual bodily harm.

Linehan, 30, of Church Street, Rugby, was given a community order with 12 months supervision and was ordered to co-operate with a scheme to tackle his alcohol abuse and to take part in a probation-run programme for 60 days.

Prosecutor Andrew Molloy said that Linehan and the victim were friends who had known each-other for a number of years and played for the same pool team.

In December 2011 they were at the Oakfield Sports and Social Club in Rugby for a pool match when there was an incident between the victim and Linehan’s brother.

That led to a confrontation between Linehan and the victim, during which there was ‘a clash of head.’

Linehan then punched his friend once to the face, splitting his lip which required stitches and has left him with a scar and a lump on the inside of his lip.

Linehan apologised almost immediately, and the two men made up – and the incident was not reported to the police until June last year.

Mr Molloy added that Linehan had a previous conviction for battery and two for unprovoked assaults for which he was given suspended sentences in 2009 and 2010.

David Everett, defending, said: “In the aftermath, there was a meeting between them and they agreed to forgive and forget.

“But in May there was a drunken incident between them at a barbeque and there was a scuffle. The police became involved and no action was taken over that, but the complainant made a complaint about this incident.”

Mr Everett said Linehan had attended Leeds University, but did not complete his degree because of his drinking.

“When one deals with a sober Javan Linehan, he is thoughtful and polite; but when he has been drinking he can be a completely different person. He wants to moderate his drinking.”

In the social club Linehan, who had been drinking, went over to ask ‘in a civil manner’ what was happening between his brother and the victim, who reacted aggressively.

“There was a clash of heads, and he thought something more was going to happen and punched him once in the face,” added Mr Everett.

Sentencing Linehan, Recorder William Mousley QC told him: “There does appear to have been some provocation in this case, as opposed to the past when you have punched out at people who had been doing you no harm at all.

“The offence is aggravated by those previous convictions; but on the other hand, it was only one blow and you then immediately demonstrated your remorse.

“Because of the unusual circumstances of this incident, I am not going to send you to prison.

“Get control of your life and get control of your drinking and you can look forward to a future without coming back to court.”