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Football player avoids jail for attack
A footballer who repeatedly punched an opponent in the face during a pre-season friendly has been spared jail.
Jamie Debanks was playing for Kidlington against Yarnton when he attacked Thomas Nee.
The victim had teeth knocked out and was left with a dental bill running into thousands of pounds after being repeatedly hit in the face.
Defender Debanks, who also plays for Oxford side Rover Cowley on Sundays, admitted one count of assault causing actual bodily harm.
The 23-year-old, of Choswell Spring, Greater Leys, was given a four-month jail sentence, suspended for a year, at Banbury Magistrates’ Court and ordered to pay £3,000 compensation and £85 costs.
The attack happened in Kidlington on August 2 last year.
Debanks grabbed midfielder Mr Nee in a headlock and dragged him to the ground.
He then straddled the victim and repeatedly punched him in the face before other players managed to pull him away.
Pc Steven Hall, who investigated the attack, said yesterday: “My understanding is that there was there was a late challenge which led to an off-the-ball incident.
“Debanks took offence with what the aggrieved had said.
He added: “It’s not something we deal with that often. The level of violence was far beyond what you would expect even in a contact sport.
“The dental costs are going to run into thousands of pounds.”
Commenting on the sentence handed out in court, Pc Hall said: “It’s a very strong sentence.
“I think it sends out a message that that level of injury will not be tolerated and will be dealt with robustly by the courts.”
An Oxfordshire Football Association spokesman said Debanks had already served a suspension for the incident.
He refused to reveal how many games Debanks was forced to miss.
The Oxford Mail was unable to contact Yarnton or Kidlington for a comment.