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ESL Players Sentenced To Prison
Three rugby league players, one of them an established international, have been jailed for their part in a fight outside a Leeds night club.
Leeds players Chev Walker and Ryan Bailey and Rochdale's Paul Owen had been found guilty of violent disorder at Leeds Crown Court on Monday following the brawl in the city in July 2002, which was filmed by closed circuit TV.
England international centre Walker, 20, was given 18 months in a young offenders' institution, while 19-year-old prop Bailey got nine months.
Rochdale fullback Owen, 24, was jailed for 15 months while a third Leeds player, 19-year-old reserve forward Dwayne Barker, was sentenced to 150 hours of community service for his role in the incident, during which he suffered a broken jaw.
During Monday's trial the court was shown a four-minute video of the fight, which began when the Leeds players attacked Owen after an argument about a mobile phone.
The judge, Paul Batty, told the players: "One thing which shines out loud and clear, and is the real serious aspect of it, is the putting in of the boot to people on the ground to the upper body.
"This court views this very seriously. It was a level of violence of a significant degree, late at night, in this city."
Bailey, who lists his favourite sportsman as Mike Tyson, and Walker had been selected in the Great Britain squad for the test series against Australia later this year.
Gary Hetherington, chief executive of Leeds who appeared in court as a character witness for his three players, issued a statement on the club's website following Tuesday's sentencing.
"The club naturally views the whole episode extremely seriously," he said.
"It is a first experience for the club and it has been a 12 month ordeal for everyone concerned.
"The players are ashamed of their involvement and are full of remorse. Their actions were out of character. All have been at the club from the age of 15 and had an unblemished record. They have made a mistake and this has been punished by the courts.
"We will continue to give our support but also we will invoke our own internal disciplinary procedure."