Assault teen posed as Town player

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A TEENAGER who punched a man in an unprovoked attack falsely told a court he was a Hucknall Town footballer with prospects in the professional game.

Alex Russell has been ordered to pay a £10,000 dental bill after his victim lost three teeth in the assault, Nottingham Crown Court heard.

Russell (19) was spared an immediate prison-sentence but was given nine months, suspended for two years.

He was also ordered to carry out 150 hours’ unpaid work for the community in addition to paying his college-student victim, Sanjeev Bhardwaj, £10,400 in compensation.

In mitigation, Russell’s solicitor read out a reference from Hucknall Town signed by an S.Clarke.

But The Yellows say they have never had a player on their books named Alex Russell and certainly didn’t provide the reference.

Chairman Dave Gamble said: “No, I have never heard of Alex Russell. He has not been at the club while I have been here.”

Town manager Tommy Brookbanks added: “I don’t know how we have become embroiled in it. He has never been involved with the football club as far as I know.”

And coach Jamie Brough said: “We were very surprised when we were contacted about this. He has never played for us and we have never heard of him. We would like to know why the club has been mentioned.”

Russell, of Melford Road, Bilborough, admitted assault causing actual bodily harm on Saturday October 3 last year.

Jim Metcalf (prosecuting) said the 19-year-old victim was standing by a burger van on Talbot Street in Nottingham city centre after leaving the Rock City nightclub at 1.30 in the morning.

Russell approached him and, after tapping him on the shoulder, asked him: “What’s happening? Did you say something?”

Mr Bhardwaj denied saying anything about Russell and said “I don’t know you” before turning away.

Without any provocation, the court heard, Russell punched the student twice in the face, including a blow to the mouth. The victim felt another blow to his forehead but did not know if this was struck by Russell or another youth with him.

Police arrived and the men were arrested on Theatre Square after a short chase.

Russell said he had been told that Mr Bhardwaj had beaten up his friend. He had been celebrating the friend’s birthday and they drank a bottle of vodka before going out and then drinking a further six or seven pints of beer.

The victim said he had been very shaken by the assault. He had to take time off from his college course and was in danger of losing his place through poor attendance.

He had not been able to speak properly for some time and his appearance was altered. Dental work he needed could not be provided on the NHS and his family had been given a £10,000 quote for him to receive private treatment.

The court heard that Russell had no previous convictions but he had been given two cautions — one for shoplifting and the other for threatening behaviour. A report said his conduct was out of character and he was genuinely remorseful.

The court also heard that Russell had a career lined up in football and was hoping to get a scholarship to go to the USA.

The judge said Russell’s career prospects would be in jeopardy if he was jailed. It was by the skin of his teeth that the sentence was being suspended.