Off-duty bodyguard broke soldier's jaw in attack outside Sunderland nightclub

Richard Dickson
Richard Dickson
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A soldier had to put his career hopes on hold after his jaw was broken in an attack by an off-duty bodyguard outside a Sunderland nightclub.

Richard Dickson knocked John Matthews to the ground with a single blow outside Illusions nightclub in Sunderland in the early hours of August 8 last year.

Newcastle Crown Court heard 26-year-old Dickson, whose job involves providing security for clubs, companies and celebrities, had wrongly believed Mr Matthews was involved in an earlier attack inside the night spot.

Mr Matthews, who had actually been helping an unconscious man after the trouble, needed surgery to fit plates and wires to the fracture.

The 21-year-old serving soldier was unable to carry out a deployment to Northern Ireland because of the attack, which was caught on CCTV and played in court.

Prosecutor Paul Rowland told the court Mr Matthews had been drinking in the city with friends when he saw the doorstaff at Illisions tending to an unconscious reveler and gave assistance.

Mr Rowland said: "After the unconscious man had been taken to a room and put in the recovery position, the complainant himself then left the premises.

"He noticed at that time one of his group was, in fact, in handcuffs.

"He wandered outside to see what was going on and it was while he was outside the defendant came out of the nightclub and, without saying anything, assaulted him, once, with a single blow."

According to his basis of plea, Dickson wrongly believed Mr Matthews had been involved in the trouble inside.

Mr Rowland said: "It is accepted the defendant may have had an erroneous belief that the complainant had been a participant in the earlier assault."

Mr Matthews was taken to hospital after the attack, where a fracture to the jaw and a need for surgery was confirmed.

Mr Rowland added: "He was left with a fractured jaw that required an operation to install titanium plate.

"He describes travelling from Catterick to Sunderland for appointments.

"He describes his career has been somewhat put on hold by this."

Dickson, of York Road, Peterlee, admitted causing grievous bodily harm.

Judge Penny Moreland told him: "You came out of that nightclub and you punched him, once, with a great deal of force so he was felled and went backwards onto the pavement.

"He required surgical intervention. He is a serving soldier and what you did has effected his career in the army, preventing him from serving in Northern Ireland as he should be doing at the moment.

"Those who are violent outside nightclubs in the early hours of the morning and cause the kind of injuries you caused should expect to go to custody.

"The only thing that saves you is your guilty plea."

Dickson was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, with 100 hours unpaid work.

Lewis Kerr, defending, said Dickson, who rarely drinks, was on a works social event that night and had had an "extremely large amount of vodka" but is usually a trusted, hard-working member of the security company.

Mr Kerr said; "A number of jobs involve him protecting celebrities and the like."

Illusions nightclub in Sunderland

Illusions nightclub in Sunderland

Mr Kerr said Dickson's behaviour "represents a gross error of judgement" by a man who was able to submit a number of references to his usually positive character.

He added: "The references paint a very different picture to the person in the dock and who was on the CCTV footage."