A FOOTBALLER’S single punch on a night out in Bournemouth left his victim unconscious on the floor and requiring two surgeries to repair the damage.

Kieran Matthew Roberts struck Luke Chandler in the side of the face following a confrontation between two groups in Old Christchurch Road.

Roberts, aged 24, who currently plays football for Portsmouth non-league side Moneyfields and has previously featured for Wimborne and Weymouth, avoided an immediate prison term at Bournemouth Crown Court on November 4.

The court heard Roberts, of Hurn Road, Christchurch, could be seen on CCTV moving to the right-hand side of Mr Chandler shortly after 3am on September 22, 2019.

Prosecuting, Tim Moores said: “He (Mr Chandler) does not seem to notice him (Roberts) coming towards him.

“Mr Roberts then strikes him from the right-hand side using his right hand to deliver a punch to the right-hand side of his face.”

Mr Moores said Mr Chandler does not remember being hit.

The victim, who was “spark out on the floor”, suffered a complex fracture to his right eye socket and also damage to his cheek. He had an operation a week later, with plates inserted to repair the fractures, however, he went on to suffer an aneurysm, which required further surgery.

A victim impact statement said Mr Chandler was unable to work for three months, unable to eat and drink properly for some time and suffered psychologically.

The prosecutor said police inquiries, including through CCTV, led them to a bar where Roberts had been earlier that night. They were able to ascertain who the defendant was as he had given his phone number and social media address to a female member of bar staff.

Roberts was arrested and in interview he admitted punching the victim. He said an initial argument between his group of friends and Mr Chandler’s started over a taxi. This led to a fight, which the defendant said had been instigated by the victim and his friends.

Mitigating, Leah Dillon said: “Mr Roberts appeared to be concerned about an injury sustained by his friend and without premeditation he strikes the victim once. Something he has never done before.”

She added: “Mr Roberts accepts the victim had no opportunity to defend himself.”

Ms Dillon said the defendant, who is a youth football coach and also works in a coffee shop, thought about the victim every day since the assault and felt guilty and remorseful. References submitted in support of Roberts, including from his employer and parents, described his actions as “out of character”. They said he had changed in many ways since the incident, with ongoing concerns for the victim.

Judge Brian Forster QC said it appeared Roberts “lost control” and struck Mr Chandler after the defendant’s friend sustained injuries.

He added: “This was all unnecessary but clearly it came about as a result of the incident which wasn’t of your own making. You were clearly affected by the alcohol in your system.”

The judge noted that the initial confrontation in the street was not of the defendant’s making.

Roberts, who had admitted a charge of unlawfully and maliciously inflicting grievous bodily harm, was sentenced to 10 months in prison, suspended for 15 months, with a requirement to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work and 20 rehabilitation activity days. He was also ordered to pay £1,000 compensation and a £149 surcharge.

Addressing Roberts directly, the judge said: “I have given this opportunity because I do not believe you will come before a court again as you have today but you must take a moment to reflect how easy it is to throw everything away in a minute.”