Monday, July 6, 2009

Footballer jailed for killing rival with a punch

A SUNDAY league footballer who killed a rival player from west London with a single punch has been jailed for 28 months.
Brentford man Stephen Ritchie, 43, was "utterly defenceless" when he was attacked after an ill-tempered match between two rival teams, the Old Bailey heard.
Darren Forwood, 21, from West Drayton, hit Ritchie from behind so hard that his head twisted round and ruptured his arteries as he stumbled and fell to the ground.
Forwood, of Frays Avenue, admitted manslaughter at a hearing last month.
Judge Jeremy Roberts said: "This arose out of a football match which had degenerated into aggression and violence on both sides, which spilled over from the pitch and off the pitch.
"There is too much of this kind of violence around at the moment and it has to be made clear that people who behave in that way will receive severe sentences."
The mother, partner, brother and daughter of the victim were in court.
Some wept as details of the incident at Little Harlington Playing Fields in Hayes, Hillingdon, in November last year were read out.
Timothy Cray, prosecuting, said: "He clearly was a much-loved and well-liked man and the loss to his family, all of whom are in court, is immeasurable."
Ritchie was killed following a game between his team, the Old Greenfordians, and Forwood's team Kingshill Town, who were "close rivals" in the Hayes and District Sunday Football League Division One, Cray said.
Kingshill went 3-0 up in the first half but the game "degenerated" as they collapsed to a 4-3 defeat, with Ritchie sent off for a push and Forwood booked for a bad tackle, the court heard.
After the game, a number of angry Kingshill players who blamed Ritchie for their defeat confronted him.
Cray said: "It is clear that Mr Ritchie showed absolutely no aggression and was heard to say 'I am not fighting you over a game of football'.
"Some of the players from both teams were trying to form a physical barrier, but this defendant - Darren Forwood - came round the back of the barrier.
"He came up behind the victim and Mr Ritchie, who couldn't have sighted him, was utterly defenceless as the blow was given.

"The blow was delivered with sufficient force to knock Ritchie off his feet"

"Cray said it was the blow to the head rather than the fall which caused the "unusual" injuries leading to death.

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