An ex-Luton Town player was ‘influenced’ by teammates to drink heavily before he assaulted two barmaids, a court heard yesterday,
At a trial earlier this month Danny Fitzsimons, 23, pleaded guilty to the attacks– which occurred at the club’s end of season awards ceremony at Luton Rugby Club on April 26.
It is alleged that on the same night former striker Ricky Miller headbutted a taxi driver in a racially motivated attack in Hockliffe.
At the ceremony the ‘heavily intoxicated’ Fitzsimons threw a glass at the back of a worker’s head and caught another with a punch intended for a different member of staff.
During sentencing at Luton Magistrates Court yesterday it was heard that the 23-year-old drank alcohol as the result of peer pressure.
Ms Cole, defending, said: “He was one of several players that were acting inappropriately, he does not usually drink but he was influenced by his teammates and he acted in a way that was completely outside his character.
“This is a situation where he wasn’t used to drink– for that reason the situation got out of control.”
At the earlier trial it was heard that Fitzsimons had several drinks and was seen waving a microphone around after joining a band on stage.
After being asked to get down, the ‘dishevelled’ Fitzsimons was seen ‘staggering’ away from the stage.
The court heard that later on the footballer put his arms around a barmaid, asked for her phone number and ‘tried to kiss her’.
He then got into an argument with a male member of staff, who was the target as he shouted “Come on, come on”, flicked his drink and threw a pint glass.
However he missed, and the glass hit a barmaid in the back of the head.
In an attempt to attack the barman Fitzsimons then threw a number of punches and mistakenly caught a second barmaid on the cheek, the court heard.
One of the victims identified the footballer using a Hatters matchday programme and he was later arrested.
Fitzsimons, of Footscray Road, Elton, was yesterday given a community order for the attacks and for six weeks he will have a curfew between 7pm and 6am.
He will also have to pay £75 compensation to each victim as well as £295 in other court fees.
Ms Cole said that Fitzsimons was deeply sorry for the attacks.
She added: “He has expressed remorse from the outset and has told me that this will never happen again.
“He has said that he will abstain from alcohol.
“He fully accepts his actions from that.”
The court heard that one of the character references supplied to magistrates was written by Hatters manager John Still.
During a injury plagued spell for the club Fitzsimons failed to make a league appearance and was released from his contract by mutual consent in May.
The Hatters have said that they were ‘disappointed’ with Fitzsimons’ behaviour, but said that he “conducted himself professionally in the subsequent internal investigation”.
After passing sentence magistrate Mr Reid told Fitzsimons: “We accept that this was a one off and I think you you have learned your lesson.
“I am sure it has been an embarrassment for you and the club and we hope to never see you in here again.”