Burnley boxer on anger management course after knocking out man in nightclub

Burnley Crown Court.
Burnley Crown Court.

A “TRAINED boxer” who punched a man, smashed his right cheekbone and knocked him out in an unprovoked nightclub attack, kept his freedom.

Dad-of-one William Dobbie (25) who left victim Craig Spark needing surgery after the trouble in Bojangles, had shown no regret for what he had done. He was said to have been showing off, laughing, posturing and posing in front of his friends and seemingly enjoying having inflicted the violence, Burnley Crown Court heard.

Dobbie, a self-employed gardener who also fixes baking machinery and was said to be able to earn £1,000 a week, had denied hitting Mr Spark and had been set to stand trial over the assault. The defendant, of Heron Court, Burnley, admitted assault causing actual bodily harm, on January 28th. He was given 12 months in jail, suspended for two years, with supervision and the Controlling Anger and Learning to Manage it (CALM) programme. Dobbie must pay £2,000 compensation.

Rachel Cooper (prosecuting) said a witness saw the defendant strike the victim in the face and knock him to the floor. She heard a crack as it happened and described it as “sickening.”

Outside the club, she saw Dobbie and pointed him out to police. The defendant at first ran away, but stopped to allow officers to catch up with him and arrest him. He denied any punch.

Miss Cooper said the victim had to have reduction and fixation of his cheekbone under general anaesthetic and was given pain killers and antibiotics. Dobbie had 21 offences on his record.

Joe Boyd, for Dobbie, said the defendant had anger management problems but had not responded to court orders in the past, as he had been working too hard to comply. Mr Boyd added: “It was a single, impulsive punch.”

Sentencing, Recorder Guy Mathieson said far from owning up, the defendant had “spun the matter out” until the trial date, no doubt hoping witnesses would not have the bottle to turn up and face him in court. He told the defendant: “It shows just the type of person you are.”

He said there was no doubt the offence crossed the custody threshold, but Dobbie was hard-working, with significant income and had been on a tagged curfew for 178 days, the equivalent of 89 days behind bars. If he was locked up, he would serve a matter of weeks. The judge continued: “It won’t change you. It won’t benefit society, other than keep you away from them for the rest of the summer. This might just be the opportunity you need to grow up.”

Recorder Mathieson added the defendant had told the probation service he was a trained boxer and, as such, would know the damage he could inflict. He had totally lacked the control of his boxing training.

The judge added: “Sober, you are hard-working. Drunk, you are potentially a liability.”