‘Wrecking Machine’ cage fighter spared jail after headbutt attack

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A cage fighting champion called the “Wrecking Machine” had a violent response to a comment about his size, a court was told.

The remark had been made by a rival gym owner Tim Furner when the duo met by chance in a seaside bar.

Karl Etherington – who was once in line for the British Olympic Judo team before he turned to mixed martial arts fighting – headbutted his victim with a force which knocked Mr Furner for six.

Etherington admitted causing Mr Furner actual bodily harm when he appeared before Blackpool Magistrates yesterday.

The court heard how Etherington, 41, had another conviction for assault in the same month – sticking a parking ticket on a traffic warden’s head.

Prosecutor Jim Mowbray told the court: “The incident took place in January this year. These two men have known each other for many years. They would always say hello to each other.

“They met in Henry’s Bar in Lytham at about midnight.

“Mr Furner saw Etherington coming out of the toilets and asked him if he was OK and he said he was. It appears Mr Furner said something about the defendant being a lot bigger than previously.

“Without warning the victim was headbutted to the face. He was dazed and in his statement said he felt he had been knocked for six.

“He said that after being butted Etherington punched him several times.”

A doorman took Mr Furner to the gents and treated a large gash above one eye. He asked staff to call the police. Twenty minutes later when no police had arrived he got a friend to ring them.

Probation officer Brian Weatherington said he had interviewed the accused who said he had been drinking on the night of the assault.

“He tells something of a different story and says he was jabbed in the stomach first.

“He has apologised to Mr Furner for the headbutt and they appear to be on reasonable terms again.”

David Charnley, defending, said: “My client had been going through a traumatic time. His long term partner had left him and was using their son as a pawn telling him he could see his son and then not allowing it.”

“His father was diagnosed with cancer at the same time but fortunately he has recovered.

“My client does a lot of work for charity and runs his own gym.”

Sentencing Etherington, of Blackpool Road, Ansdell, chairman of the bench Michael Bryan said: “The use of the head as a weapon is a serious matter and could have had much worse effect.”

Etherington was given a 16 week jail term suspended for a year, ordered to pay his victim £300 compensation and £200 court costs.