A KEEN rugby player has been told he can never play the sport again after a single punch left him with a serious brain injury.

A man and his partner attended a party at Netherhall Men's Club in Maryport on New Year's Day this year. 

“Everyone was heavily in drink, including the complainant in this case and the partner of the defendant,” outlined prosecutor Brendan Burke at Carlisle Crown Court yesterday.

“It was because of something the wife of the defendant said happened to her that violence ensued. A single punch, a blow from the defendant.”

The blow by Liam Wilson, 29, to the face was enough to knock the man backwards to the floor, hitting his head in the process.

The injury left the victim unable to drive until April. He was also dealt the devastating news that he would not be able to play rugby ever again. Wilson admitted inflicting grievous bodily harm.

“The defendant has nothing of this nature on his record. His record consists only of historic driving offences,” Mr Burke said.

Nicola Carroll, defending, said her client’s partner’s ill health would mean an immediate jail term would have a detrimental impact.

“I submit there is a low risk of reoffending and it was a guilty plea at the first available opportunity. There were full admissions in interview and he displayed remorse for his actions. He is remorseful and regretful for his actions,” she said.

In interview he expressed anger at being prosecuted for the matter.

Mrs Carroll outlined that Wilson, of Brookside in Seaton, “is a hard-working young man and father of young children who he supports financially, emotionally and practically".

"His wife doesn’t know how she would cope without him,” she said.

Recorder Katherine Pierpoint told the defendant: “You punched him once and hard to the face causing him to fall immediately to the floor, hitting the back of his head and he was lying unconscious there for a few minutes.”

Sentencing Wilson to 12 months in prison suspended for 18 months, Recorder Pierpoint added: “The fact is, you could’ve killed this man.”

He will complete 200 hours of unpaid work and pay £500 compensation.