Rugby player's pub attack left man almost blind in one eye

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A rugby league player has been spared immediate prison for a brutal pub attack which left one victim almost blind in one eye.

Vodka-fuelled Bryan Ritchie, 22, knocked Jonathan Bethwaite unconscious at Padua's Bar, Workington, in the early hours of November 1.

Powerfully-built Ritchie then punched innocent bystander Ross Benn to the floor.

Mr Benn was left almost completely blind in his right eye following an attack which was said to have "devastated" his life.

Carlisle Crown Court was read a statement from Mr Benn's mother. She confirmed her son was now "a very different young man to the one he was".

Fully remorseful Ritchie - a man of previous good character - later admitted he was at a loss to explain his violence.

Having admitted attacks on Mr Benn and Mr Bethwaite, along with a public order offence, he was sentenced at the crown court today.

Ritchie, of Wether Riggs Road, Salterbeck, Workington, was given a 22-month prison sentence which was suspended for two years.

He must complete 300 hours of unpaid work, observe a three-month night-time curfew and pay Mr Benn £3,000 compensation.

The court heard Ritchie was a Sellafield worker and amateur rugby player who had received county and country call-ups.

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