Ex-Bristol City player David Noble was "trying to act peacemaker" in nightclub brawl
A FORMER Bristol City star who tried to act peacemaker in a nightclub brawl has avoided jail.
David Noble, pictured, was trying to calm things down when trouble flared at the Java club on Park Street, Bristol Crown Court heard.
But when Tim Winterbottom kicked him from behind, Noble punched him, and Mr Winterbottom went to the floor and was struck again by others, having his jaw broken in two places.
Noble, 30 of Sanford Place, Exeter, admitted causing grievous bodily harm in March. He pleaded not guilty to assault by beating of Francisco Zaragoza and his denial was accepted by the Crown Prosecution Service.
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Judge Geoffrey Mercer QC told him: "I sentence you on the basis that what you did was out of character. But it was a disgraceful incident, totally unacceptable drunken violence in a club in which you punched another man and he suffered a broken jaw. It is important on the basis of plea it is understood whatever started this incident, you did not instigate it."
The midfielder was made the subject of a 12-month community order, with 180 hours of unpaid work and £2,000 compensation payable in 28 days.
Noble's barrister told The Post: "Mr Noble is very grateful to the judge for taking into account his version of events. It was an unacceptable incident which he bitterly regrets and which he can now put behind him."
Mary Cowe, prosecuting, said a fight broke out in the club around 3am, seeming to involve Noble's brother, and Noble tried to push people apart. Miss Cowe said: "He reacts to something happening behind him, which the defence say is a kick, and he punches Mr Winterbottom once to the face."
Mark Haslam, defending, told the court: "He accepts his behaviour was serious and totally unacceptable. He is a role model in society and it is particularly unacceptable.
"If one is famous enough to sign autographs one is famous enough to behave properly in public."
Hitchin-born Noble left Ashton Gate in 2010 to join Exeter City, and now plays for Rotherham United.
He played a key role in City's promotion to the Championship in 2007, scoring twice in the final home game to seal of the season.