Former Castleford Tigers player broke man's eye socket on pub dancefloor
A former Castleford Tigers player who punched a man on a pub dancefloor and broke his eye socket has avoided being locked up.
Brandon Westerman, 24, threw the single punch in the Red Lion pub in Pontefract after a scuffle broke out involving Westerman's brother.
He attacked a man who was with the group, but was not involved, prosecutor Michael Collins told Leeds Crown Court.
The fight took place on the evening of September 1, 2018.
The victim had been on a night out in Pontefract with friends and family drinking in the Market Place pub.
The victim then spotted Westerman, whom he knew was a former Tigers player, and went to speak with him about rugby.
However, Westerman's brother then became involved in a violent altercation.
Brandon Westerman then got involved, before turning and striking the man who was walking past him with his hands up to show he was not getting involved.
The man suffered a broken cheekbone and required surgery.
Westerman was not arrested until December 2018 and claimed he could not remember being involved in a fight.
He was initially charged with two counts of malicious wounding, first on the man with whom is brother had been fighting with, then the victim who suffered the broken cheek.
Prior to the jury being sworn in, he changed his plea to guilty for the latter. The Crown Prosecution offered no evidence for the former charge.
Westerman, of Elizabeth Drive, Castleford, has no previous convictions.
Mitigating, Gareth Henderson-Moore said Westerman had stopped drinking alcohol altogether since that night.
He said: "He was out with his brother and sister and is very protective of his family.
"He was concerned for his brother during the course of the scuffle that broke out.
"He accepts whole-heartedly that the victim was effectively a peace maker.
"It was a spontaneous act, there was no premeditation.
"He expresses genuine remorse and is very sorry for the injuries caused. He would welcome the opportunity to apologise in person or in writing."
Judge Neil Clark told Westerman: "He (the victim) was interested in Rugby League and spoke quite amicably with you.
"For no real reason that could be justified, you got involved.
"He had his hands up, but because you were lashing out at anybody, you caused him a serious injury because he happened to be standing near you."
Because he has no previous convictions, Judge Clark handed Westerman a 12-month jail term, suspended for 18 months.
He was also given 300 hours of unpaid work.
The judge added: "It was a case of mistaken self defence.
"Most people who break someone's jaw go to prison."
Westerman, who is now retired from Rugby League, joined Castleford Tigers in 2014 after impressing for his local team, Castleford Panthers.
He struggled to break into the first team and spent time on loan at York Knights.
He was released by Tigers in 2017.