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Stockton footballer who attacked spectator 'grossly provoked'
AN amateur footballer who attacked a spectator for winding him up during a Sunday morning game was spared prison after a judge ruled he was grossly provoked.
Peter Carling walked free from court yesterday despite following Chris Black after the match in Stockton, knocking him to the ground and repeatedly punching him.
Teesside Crown Court heard that Carling, 32, was subjected to “well-over-thetop abuse” during the clash between his side Roseworth and opponents Norton. Mr Black played for Norton but was on the sidelines during the ill-tempered derby clash because he was injured, prosecutor Jacqueline Edwards said.
Father-of-two Carling was sent off with the game deadlocked at 2-2 for handling a goal-bound effort on the line, and handing a match-winning penalty to the visitors.
The court heard Mr Black rushed onto the pitch and hurled more abuse at the redcarded defender and the pair exchanged angry words before the final whistle.
After the game, Carling followed Mr Black out of the car park in his van, shouted to two friends to hold him and jumped from the vehicle to chase him down a drive.
Ms Edwards said the plasterer punched Mr Black at least four times and knocked him to the ground, before continuing the vicious assault as his victim lay helpless. Mr Black, who took a week off work and said he was greatly shaken by what he called an unprovoked attack, needed stitches to a deep head wound.
Carling, of Piperknowle Road, Stockton, admitted assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and was given a 12- month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months.
Judge Howard Crowson also ordered him to carry out 180 hours of unpaid work but said he would not make a compensation order because it was “too murky a world”, adding: “I have given you a chance based on very unusual circumstances I take were involved here. You reacted badly to gross provocation.”
Peter Wishlade, mitigating, said: “He accepts he should have let it go, but it went on for so long, and so persistently, he just lost his temper.”
In a letter to the court, an experienced referee watching the game described the abuse as “way over the top”, and Carling has since quit the game, said his lawyer.