Solicitor admits headbutting spectator at football match


A Jewish amateur footballer headbutted a spectator during a match after the fan insulted his mother.

Mike Filson,a 33-year-old solicitor, was playing for South Manchester against Leeds Maccabi in the Manchester Jewish Soccer League when he reacted to abuse from the sidelines.

Leeds Crown Court heard that five minutes into the second half of the match Filson responded to shouts from the crowd and said: "Who is going to start on me about my mother?"

Victim Elliot Landy called back: "Well, she is quite ugly" before Filson headbutted him, leaving him with a fractured eye socket .

Filson was sent off and his since been kicked out of his club for the violent outburst.

Leeds eventually won the game 6-0.

The court heard that tensions were high in the game in Leeds on April 26 because it was a repeat of the Tony Cohen Memorial Trophy final from the previous season, which Leeds also won after Filson was sent off for persistent dissent.

At court Filson, a father-of-two who works for a firm in Manchester that offers insurance for lawyers, admitted assault. He was ordered to complete a 12-month community order with 160 hours unpaid work. He was fined £900 and ordered to pay £500 court costs.

Pleading guilty, he presented 42 character references.

Jonathan Sharp, prosecuting, said that on hearing the comment about his mother, Filson had sprinted over to Mr Landy, jumped at him with his head making violent contact with his left cheekbone.

Mr Landy " felt pain and discomfort and blood started pouring down from above his eye lid. He fell to the floor in shock,” Mr Sharp told the court.

Mr Landy was taken to Leeds General Infirmary where he was told his cheekbone had been broken

He did not require surgery for his injuries.

Nicholas Lumley QC, acting for Filson, said: "He plainly regrets what happened. Our submission is that there was provocation that led to this. The language was a little more graphic than that.

"As soon as he could he sought the contact details of the person injured and contacted them by telephone and in writing. He contacted witnesses present and apologised to them. You have seen character references and testimony and those close to him saw him in the days and weeks after it happened in remorse and this was quite powerful.

"He has brought shame upon himself and family. His wife is here today. He has two children and a third due. He has managed to get to 33 never having done anything like this.

"He is a qualified solicitor, a professional in indemnity insurance. He will be facing consequences of his professional body for his conviction. His status as a solicitor will be affected by having in particular a custodial sentence or extended.

"If there was a case where extra credit for pleading guilty were due, this would be one. This was never envisaged at trial and he has always accepted responsibility on the phone, in letters and in talking to police. There are no previous convictions in this man’s case. He accepts he must be punished and he hopes it will be limited to community service a certain amount of costs.”

Sentencing the Judge Peter Collier, the Recorder of Leeds, said a community order was appropriate punishment because of Filson’s previous good character, his attempts to apologise for his actions to Mr Landy, and his guilty plea.

He told Filson: “You are 33 years of age with no previous convictions. I have read 42 references from people of all walks of life including professional colleagues.

"It is clear what happened on 26 April was completely out of character as you are held in high regard.”

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