A BOXER with hopes of fighting at the 2016 Olympics has has walked free from court after he punched a hole in a man’s cheek.
Declan Fusco was given a suspended sentence after Durham Crown Court was told he is remorseful and has already spent five weeks in prison on remand.
The couirt was told more jail time would prevent him attending an important boxing camp and taking up a job offer.
Prosecuting, Rebecca Brown said trouble flared in the Village Inn, Easington, two days before last Christmas.
“The defendant is described as being agitated, pacing up and down the premises, looking for a fight,” added Ms Brown.
“One of the customers, Stephen Alban, asked Fusco to calm down, telling him it was nearly Christmas and people should be enjoying themselves.
“An argument developed between the two men, and despite Mr Alban apologising, the defendant threw a punch that did not fully connect.
But, moments later Fusco struck Martin Waller.
“It was a quick, efficient and effective punch,” said Ms Brown. “Mr Waller was knocked to the floor.
“He suffered a cheek injury which he later said medical staff were able to put their finger through.
“He went to Peterlee drop-in medical centre who transferred him to Sunderland Royal Hospital for surgery.
“The wound needed about 50 stitches, both inside and out the mouth.”
Fusco, 22, of Rydal Crescent, Peterlee, admitted causing grievous bodily harm and common assault, both on December 23 last year.
He was recently given a conditional discharge by magistrates for common assault.
Jane Waugh, mitigating, said: “This assault didn’t arise out of nothing, he heard words offensive to him, although he doesn’t know who said them.
“Mr Fusco has a promising future as a boxer, and he hopes to attend a camp on June 26 which could put him on the way to a place in the British team for the Olympics in 2016.
“He also has the offer of a job in Portsmouth, so immediately after the camp he intends to leave this area to work.
“Mr Fusco is well thought of by many people, is polite, and hopes to be seen as a role model.”
The Recorder, Ms Amanda Rippon, sentenced Fusco to 16 months in prison, suspended for two years, a 12-month supervision order, and 100-hours community work.
“You are a trained boxer,” the recorder told Fusco. “This turns your fists into a weapon.
“I accept there was some provocation, your remorse is genuine, and you have had a taste of custody.
“You need to stay out of trouble if you don’t want to go back to prison.”