A SOLDIER’S loss of temper at the end of a Sunday league ‘friendly’ football match cost him his Army career, and liberty, and led to his victim suffering lingering health issues.

Ashley Murphy launched an unexpected assault on an opponent just after full-time of a match between Wear Valley League side Bay Horse and Crook Town, in September 2019.

He was confronted over the forceful nature of his play and responded by punching the opponent to the jaw and, as he fell to his knees, followed up with a blow to the back of the head.

Durham Crown Court was told that as his victim was trying to find his glasses he was kicked and held in a headlock, as Murphy was said to have tried to gouge his eyes.

There was then a “general melee” as other players and officials became involved.

Jane Waugh, prosecuting, said the victim spent three days in hospital and, after surgery to his jaw, suffered numerous knock-on difficulties, with head aches and memory loss due to the effects of severe whiplash.

The builder has been unable to work and has undergone physiotherapy, while he has suffered anxiety and depression, worried in part by a large loss of income.

In a victim impact statement read to the court, he said it has “completely changed my life”.

Murphy, 29, of Auckland Park, Bishop Auckland, denied causing grievous bodily harm, but was convicted by the jury after a three-day trial last month.

His counsel, Shaun Dryden, told the sentencing hearing: “He has heard the impact statement and the effect his behaviour has had on the victim.

“But it’s also had a disastrous effect on Mr Murphy.

“Due to the conviction he’s lost his Army career, having been in the Scots’ Guards for 12 years. That’s at an end and he’ll be discharged with serious implications for himself and his family.”

Referring to the incident, Mr Dryden said: “There was no suggestion this was pre-meditated.”

But Judge James Adkin said: “It would have been so easy when interviewed to have put his hands up and said: ‘I lost it’.

“Instead we had a forago, when there was overwhelming evidence.”

The judge said he responded to being challenged about his, “exceptionally aggressive” play with, “ferocious violence”.

Imposing a two-year prison sentence, the judge added that details of the case ought to be passed on to Durham FA, “so it can take steps to ensure he doesn’t participate in such violence again in Sunday league ‘friendly’ games.”