Man escapes jail after breaking Harpenden rugby player’s jaw

A RUGBY player who fractured his Harpenden opponent’s jaw so badly that he required two lots of surgery has escaped jail.

Hitchin Rugby Club player Jonathan Harrison, 44, was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment suspended for 18 months last week at Wood Green Crown Court.

He had been found guilty there on March 23 of causing grievous bodily harm to a 38-year-old player from the Harpenden team at a match at Barnet Rugby Club last April.

Shortly before half time, a ruck was formed at the Hitchin 22-yard line. Immediately after the ball came out of the ruck, the victim received a single punch to his jaw. He later told police he heard his jaw breaking after the blow.

He was taken to hospital, where it emerged there were two fractures to his jaw. He underwent surgery to have it pinned in place and later had to have a second operation as one of the fractures was not mending properly.

Harrison was traced by police and arrested. He told them that, at the time of the incident, his shirt was being held by the victim after the ball had passed out of the ruck and that he told the victim to release him. When that did not happen, Harrison claimed that he had swung his arm up and backwards to break the grip and that any resulting injury was accidental.

However he was convicted following a trial at the court.

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As well as the suspended sentence, Harrison was handed 150 hours unpaid work and told to pay �2,500 compensation to the victim and costs of �1,500. He is also not allowed to play or coach competitive rugby for two years.

Dc Matthew Bennett from the Met Police said after the sentencing: “This sort of assault has no place in sport and this case sends a clear message that those who take the physical aspect of a game too far will face the sanction of the court.”