Jail for motorbike yob who attacked football coaches with metal pole

Mark Kerton has been jailed for 14 months for his part in the attack on two football coaches.
Mark Kerton has been jailed for 14 months for his part in the attack on two football coaches.

Two football coaches were attacked with metal poles when they asked motorbike riders to leave a pitch where 40 children were about to play.

Trevor Woods and Brian Stewart were preparing for a morning training session with a group of under-14s at Lukes Lane Community Centre in Hebburn on October 26 last year.

They were distracted by people riding bikes on the pitch, and Newcastle Crown Court heard that when the coaches asked the riders to move away, they were abused and beaten.

Mark Kerton, of Thames Road, Hebburn, admitted two charges of common assault, having an offensive weapon and intimidation in relation to the attack, and was today jailed for 14 months.

Judge Tim Gittins told the 27-year-old: "Your victims were community-spirited volunteers, involved in coaching children at football on pitches at Lukes Lane, when they became concerned about you and others riding motorbikes around or across the football fields, interfering with their planned coaching.

"Having shouted a warning and invited you to move away, instead of you simply moving on and realising you were acting inappropriately, you completely over-reacted.

"Undoubtedly being angry at some perceived disrespect or being told off in front of others, what you did is arm yourself, come back with some of your colleagues, one other of whom was armed as well with metal poles, 3ft to 4ft in length.

"You didn't just threaten those two men with them, you used them in a group attack, repeated, sustained blows to the head body and torso, and included in that were threats and abuse, all in front of other members of staff and all in front of children."

The judge said the offences were aggravated because they were "in the presence of children and it was a group attack with weapons".

The court heard the coaches were left "bruised and shaken" as a result of the violence.

Judge Gittins told Kerton, who has a criminal record which includes violent offences: "The court has to protect community spirited people like Mr Woods and Mr Stewart, who have done nothing wrong.

"Obviously you think, it would seem, that you can do as you please, repeatedly committing offences like this.

"I wonder, however, how big and clever it is, because you are the one that ends up spending time - and longer periods - in custody."

Prosecutor Neil Jones told the court 40 children had been due to attend for coaching that morning and some had arrived when the attack happened.

The coaches attempted to get the two armed men, who were part of a group of four, to put the poles down, but their pleas were ignored and they were attacked.

The court also heard that in May this year, after Kerton had admitted his part in the attack, he "squared up" to Mr Woods during a chance meeting when the coach was at a park with his family.

Vic Laffey, defending, said Kerton has a long history of mental problems and has been diagnosed with ADHD, but treatment has not been readily available, despite ongoing attempts.

Mr Laffey said Kerton has worked for a removal firm in the past and plans to work full-time when he is released from custody.