Bedford village football game prompts serious assault

editorial image

A young footballer has been given a suspended prison sentence after punching an opposing player so hard that he fractured his jaw.

Nathan France, 20, was playing for Renhold United Reserves during a “bad tempered” Bedford County League game against Caldecote.

Luton Crown Court heard how France received a yellow half in the first game of the game and was shown the red card in the second half after clashing with Caldecote player James Gauge.

He told the referee: “If you send me off, I am going to knock him out.”

France then punched James Gauge, who fell to the ground. He later needed surgery to have his fractured jaw repaired with a plate and eight screws.

He had been rushed to hospital by members of his family who were watching the match from the sidelines at Renhold playing fields.

The court heard how the entire game, in January this year, had been a bad tempered affair with “niggles” between the players throughout.

Before the match there had been a lot of postings on social media that had raised tensions about the fixture.

France, who lives in Ashmead Road in Bedford, pleaded guilty to wounding Mr Gauge.

The judge was told football had been his passion but he had not wanted to play again since the assault.

He was said to be remorseful for his action, which happened “in the heat of the moment”.

France was sentenced to eight months youth custody, which was suspended for 12 months. In addition he was told he would have to pay his victim £1800 in compensation.

He must also carry out 150 hours of unpaid work.