Warrington Wolves and St Helens rugby stars escape jail over assault
TWO of the region’s biggest Rugby League stars walked free from court yesterday after they were sentenced for assault.
Warrington Wolves’ Stuart Reardon, 27, was given a 12- week suspended sentence at Bradford Magistrates’ Court after earlier admitting that he assaulted his estranged wife Kay after finding out she was seeing another man.
St Helens star Leon Pryce, also 27, was ordered to do 100 hours unpaid work after he pleaded guilty to assaulting Mrs Reardon’s new partner in the same incident.
Sentencing the pair, Deputy District Judge Alan Fowler described the assault last July as ‘‘astonishingly frightening''.
The court heard full-back Reardon, whose contract with Wolves has been terminated as a result of the incident, separated from his wife in February last year and began divorce proceedings in May.
But he said he was "heartbroken" when friends told him Mrs Reardon was having a relationship with a new man, Damon O’Brien.
Reardon asked St Helens stand-off Pryce to accompany him to Mr O’Brien’s flat so he could "see for himself". The defendants, who had both been drinking, went to the flat but when neither Mrs Reardon nor Mr O’Brien opened the door, Reardon sent a text message to his wife’s new boyfriend, claiming their young son was in hospital.
He then shoulder-charged the door, breaking the frame and the lock.
After shouting at his wife and calling her insulting names, Reardon, from Halifax, West Yorkshire, grabbed her arm "momentarily", causing three bruises.
Pryce, from Bradford, then pushed Mr O’Brien, who had armed himself with a rounders bat "for his own protection", causing him to stumble backwards and hit his head and neck on a pedal bin.
Deputy District Judge Fowler said Pryce went to the flat to help keep the peace and had not anticipated any violence.
But he said he should have left when Reardon forced open the door.
He told Pryce: "This incident was astonishingly frightening for the two people in that flat.
"They were behind a locked door, in their own house, minding their own business."
He continued: "You should never have been there, you should not have entered the house. When you were shocked by Mr Reardon’s behaviour, you should have removed yourself from the scene.
"You contributed to what was a serious incident."
The judge ordered Pryce, who has a previous conviction for wounding, to pay Mr O’Brien £100 compensation. He was also told to pay £350 costs.
The court heard that Reardon’s "world had fallen apart" as a result of his conviction.
Sean Smith, mitigating for Reardon, said his contract with Warrington had been terminated and a move to Hull FC fell through.
Mr Smith said: "He has lost an awful lot as a direct result of this incident."
Sentencing him, Deputy District Judge Fowler said he believed a custodial sentence was appropriate but was prepared to suspend it for one year due to the circumstances.
He described the assault as "isolated" and said the rugby player was usually "an entirely respectable man".
He added: "Your employers have terminated your employment as a direct result of this. You were a professional rugby player.
"Your reputation has been seriously affected today."
Reardon was also ordered to carry out 200 hours unpaid work, to pay £240 for the cost of the broken door and £150 compensation to his wife.
He was also told to pay £350 costs.
Reardon was born in Bradford, played for Bradford Bulls and Salford City Reds before joining Wolves, and has made five appearances for Great Britain.
Pryce was also born in the city and was a Bradford Bulls star before moving to St Helens. He has played 17 times for Great Britain. THE DAILY POST