Rugby club ‘role model’ jailed for KOing man outside pub with ‘haymaker punch’

A respected rugby player described as an “excellent role model” knocked a man unconscious with an “almighty haymaker punch” in an unprovoked attack outside a pub.

Footage shows Liam Vaughan Fitzpatrick, wearing a pink shirt, smoking a cigarette outside a pub in a crowd of other men.

He then suddenly knocks a man to the ground with a punch to the face.

Fitzpatrick follows up with eight more punches to his defenceless victim – until he is dragged away by a bouncer.

In a reference from his local rugby club, which was read to Swansea Crown Court, Fitzpatrick was described as “an excellent role model for young players”, Wales Online reports.

But, jailing him, a judge said it was clear that when binge-drinking the 31-year-old’s behaviour was “crazed”.

The judge added that unless the player tackles the issues underlying his violent outbursts he could end up killing someone.

Ashanti-Jade Walton, prosecuting, said the assault took place outside the Golden Lion pub in Carmarthen in the early hours of September 7 last year.

She said Fitzpatrick approached a man in the smoking area and asked him for a cigarette but the man told him he did not have any spare.

The man turned away from the defendant and with that Fitzpatrick delivered a heavy blow to the side of the victim’s face which caused him to crash unconscious to the floor.

The court heard witnesses then described how Fitzpatrick set about the stricken man and punched him another eight times to the head as he lay defenceless on the floor.

A bouncer intervened and pulled the attacker off his victim.

Miss Walton said other customers outside the pub found a police officer nearby and the PC detained Fitzpatrick as he walked away.

The court heard the victim was taken to Glangwili Hospital where he underwent a CT scan, had stitches put in a deep gash inside his mouth, and had a fractured ankle put in a cast.

In an impact statement, the man said the assault had left him with a large lump of scar tissue inside his mouth, ringing in his ears, and occasional attacks of blurry vision.

He said he now found it difficult to socialise and to trust people and has flashbacks of the incident.

He added: “It has changed me to the point where I don’t really recognise myself.”

Fitzpatrick, of Pretoria Buildings, Bancyfelin, Carmarthenshire, admitted inflicting grievous bodily harm.

The court heard he has 10 previous convictions for 12 offences including common assault, being drunk and disorderly, criminal damage, assault occasioning actual bodily harm (ABH), affray, and four public order matters.

One of the public order offences, from 2016, had seen him strip naked and jump into the fountain in Swansea’s Castle Square while watching the England versus Wales football match.

The ABH, also from 2016, saw Fitzpatrick punch a man in the face in Carmarthen’s Jackson’s wine bar, knocking his victim unconscious.

He then punched him several more times as he lay on the floor.

James Hartson, defending, said the people who knew the defendant described him as reliable, hard-working, polite, and friendly.

He said the self-employed bricklayer was an active member of Llanybydder Rugby Club whose chairman said he was an “excellent role model for young players”.

The barrister acknowledged the assault outside the pub had been an “appalling incident” and he said the defendant’s problem was binge-drinking.

Fitzpatrick was sentenced to 16 months in prison, with the judge giving him a one-third discount for his guilty plea.

He will serve up to half of that period in custody before being released on licence.

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