FORMER Republic of Ireland and Celtic striker Anthony Stokes has been given a two year suspended sentence for head-butting an Elvis impersonator in a Dublin Nightclub over three years ago.
Mr Stokes (28) formerly with an address at Claremont Terrace, Glasgow, Scotland, but now living in Blackburn, England, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm to Anthony Bradley (53) at Buck Whaleys on Leeson Street, Dublin city on June 8, 2013.
Stokes, a father of two, currently plays for Blackburn Rovers and has nine international caps with the Irish team.
The court heard that Mr Bradley had an exchange of words with a man in Stokes’ company because this man was unsteady on his feet and spilling his drink. The conversation was not considered aggressive by other witnesses. The victim said later said that Stokes then “arrived out of nowhere”.
He said he tried to tell him everything was “okay” before Stokes head-butted him on the bridge of his nose. Mr Bradley was bleeding so badly that his friend, who was standing with him, was covered in blood. He was later treated for a fractured nose and two broken teeth.
Detective Garda Des Rogers told Diarmuid Collins BL, prosecuting that as Stoke was being removed from the nightclub he was heard saying; “What did I do? I didn’t start it. If someone puts it up to me I am going to nut them”.
Defence counsel Dean Kelly BL, said his client wished to apologise for what he described as “a nasty and cowardly thing to do”.
Stokes had €30,000 in court in recognition of Mr Bradley’s medical costs to date. The court heard that civil proceedings are continuing in the High Court.
Mr Kelly said there is “no doubt that head-butting has a thuggish element to it” and Stokes “knows that”. He said it was deeply embarrassing for both him and his employer.
Det Gda Rogers agreed that Stokes rang the hostess at Buck Whaleys the following day to apologise for his behaviour and said he couldn’t remember what happened.
Stokes was arrested by arrangement through his solicitor but made no comment during interview. The case was set down for trial twice before he pleaded guilty last November.
Mr Bradley, who previously worked as a car park attendant at the Gresham Hotel in Dublin, stated that he was out on sick leave for eight months after the assault. He stated in his victim impact report that he had had to undergo extensive dental work and surgery to his nose which to date has cost him €13,500.
Mr Bradley also stated that he now suffered with chronic neck pain which prevented him from sleeping properly at night. It was accepted in court that he had a pre-existing undiagnosed condition which caused the issue with his neck but Mr Bradley believes that the assault exasperated it.
Mr Bradley said he was now on medication for both depression and pain so he could “sustain some standard of life”. He feared he would now be on life long medication for pain because of the attack and said he would need more extensive dental work.
He said he had not returned to work since the assault due to the significant physical and psychological problems he continued to suffer.
Judge Patricia Ryan described it as a serious assault and noted that Mr Bradley continues to suffer.
She accepted that Stokes had apologised in court and had €30,000, which Mr Bradley accepted, as “a practical expression of his remorse” before she suspended the two year term on strict conditions.
Mr Kelly said Stokes left school after his junior cert having being recruited by the Arsenal Youth Academy. His parents moved with him to London where he continued his education and did his A levels.
He made his senior debut with Arsenal at 17, and later played with Celtic for six years before he moved to Blackburn Rovers in 2016.
A number of testimonials were handed into court including one from his principal from Terenure College in Dublin where Stokes attended as a teenager. He was described as a mannerly, courteous, honest and trustworthy student who was well regarded by both staff and peers.
A second letter from a drill sergeant with the Irish Defence Forces stated that Stoke did pre-season training with him and he always found him professional and hard-working.
Anthony Stokes began his career at Arsenal and has also played for Sunderland and Hibernian, has nine caps for the Republic of Ireland, but has not played for his country since 2014.