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Soccer player punches ref, cops life-time ban

UNPROVOKED: Declan James Evans was convicted of the assault of a referee during a Gympie soccer game.
UNPROVOKED: Declan James Evans was convicted of the assault of a referee during a Gympie soccer game. Renee Albrecht

A SOCCER player who punched a referee after being sent off has been sentenced and charged a total of $2500 by the Gympie Magistrates Court yesterday.

Declan James Evans, 18, pleaded guilty to one charge of assault occasioning bodily harm after hitting the referee during a Golden City versus Columbia soccer game at One Mile Ovals on July 22.

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The court heard that during the game Evans was adjudged to have unfairly challenged an opposition player for the ball and the referee issued him with a yellow card for the tackle.

Evans became aggravated and walked away from the referee while he swore aloud.

The referee took exception to Evans foul mouth and called him over, at which Evans became increasingly aggressive.

The prosecution said witnesses stated Evans lunged at the referee and hurled further abuse at him while his captain tried to hold him back.

Evans was then given a red card for dissent and ordered to leave the field.

He then punched the referee in the face, which floored the man.

Players then surrounded Evans and restrained him while the referees left the field.

The prosecution said the victim was left with a jaw injury which made it difficult to eat after the assault.

Evans presented himself to police a few days later.

Upon a police interview, Evans stated he could not control himself and was enraged because he felt the referee had unfairly treated his team during the game.

He said he would probably have punched the referee even if a police officer had been present at the time.

Evans' defence lawyer said he admitted the referee had not said anything directly to the player during the game and had no excuse to attack the victim.

His lawyer also stated Evans' medical conditions of ADHD and autism spectrum disorder contributed to the situation.

The defence explained one of Evans' coping mechanisms was to "walk away" from confrontation and the referee's demand of Evans to face the referee had inadvertently triggered the confrontation.

Football Federation Australia have issued a lifetime ban for Evans, which bars him from playing the sport or from attending matches.

Magistrate Ross Woodford said the assault was serious and alarming.

"You're there to play a game," Mr Woodford said.

"You have to play the game according to the referee.

"Refs can't go out there and worry, "gee, am I going to be assaulted today?""

The magistrate took into account no prior history and his age and issued Evans with a $2000 fine and ordered to pay a further $500 in compensation for pain and suffering to the victim.

Topics:  crime football federation australia gympie gympie magistrates court soccer sport

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