A FORMER boxer who broke a love rival’s jaw in a vicious attack has avoided going to jail.
Mark Denton, 29, battered Michael Ryan because he thought Mr Ryan stood in the way of Denton’s chances of getting back with his former partner.
Denton attacked Mr Ryan when he bumped into him in Hartlepool town centre on July 3.
The two knew each other as they had both previously boxed for the Headland Boxing Club.
Anthony Dunne, prosecuting at Teesside Crown Court, said: “Tensions rose, principally the crown would say directed by the defendant towards Mr Ryan because Mr Ryan had been in contact with the defendant’s ex-partner.
“It would seem that the defendant entertained hopes of reconciling with his former partner and believed the contact between Mr Ryan and his ex-partner was jeopardising that.”
Mr Dunne said Denton tried to get Mr Ryan to fight him before hitting him in the head.
Mr Ryan adopted a boxing stance and tried to defend himself, but ended up on the floor during the scuffle.
Mr Dunne added: “He was on his back and the defendant was using his elbow and forearms to assault him around the head and face.”
The attack came to an end when a woman passer-by screamed at Denton to stop.
Mr Ryan pressed charges after an x-ray at hospital revealed he suffered a broken jaw.
Although he did not need surgery, he could not eat solid food for six weeks and had to wear a face mask.
Robin Denny, mitigating, said Denton, who admitted causing grievous bodily harm, was abusing drink and drugs at the time, but had sought help.
Mr Denny said: “Since the offence there has been no further offending or any problems with the complainant.
“He’s extremely sorry for getting involved in this way and the damage he caused.
“He is now a much more relaxed individual.”
Denton, of Granville Avenue, Hartlepool, was given a 12-month sentence suspended for two years, with probation supervision and six-months alcohol treatment.
Judge Tony Briggs said: “You pushed a situation where there was absolutely no need for it.
“Bearing in mind everything I’ve heard about you it’s just possible to suspend custody, but it’s a very close run thing.”