A PROFESSIONAL Sheffield ice hockey player who bottled a man in the VIP lounge of a city centre bar has escaped an immediate jail sentence.
Ryan Johnson, aged 28, attacked the man in Nocturnal nightclub in Charter Square, in an unprovoked attack in the early hours of July 24 last year, Sheffield Crown Court heard.
The ex-Steelers player, who has also played for the now- defunct Sheffield Scimitars and the Sheffield Steeldogs, currently plays in defence for Manchester Phoenix.
Sentencing him to a six-month jail term, suspended for two years, Judge Roger Keen QC told Johnson: “This offence is a serious offence of violence.
“It is plain that a fight started and you used a bottle to attack someone who had done you no harm whatsoever.
“As a consequence your victim suffered a variety of injuries.”
Johnson was with a friend when they entered Nocturnal and went straight to the VIP area.
The victim told police he offered to buy Johnson a drink, and then went to the toilet.
When he returned the next thing he remembered was receiving a blow to the head, he said.
Johnson was escorted away from the VIP area by door staff and the police arrived and arrested him.
An eyewitness told police he saw Johnson lash out at his victim but did not see a bottle.
Johnson initially admitted assault occasioning actual bodily harm on the basis he had not used a bottle.
But the court heard the victim was taken to the Northern General Hospital where glass was removed from a cut to his forehead.
Sentencing him on the basis that a bottle was used, Judge Keen said: “You can’t claim to be a person of entirely good character because there’s an offence of affray back in 2001.
“But looking at the references, a fair approach is that this is out of character.
“It’s because of that, coupled with your plea of guilty, that I can avoid an immediate custodial sentence.”
Johnson, of Mote Hall Road, Manor, Sheffield, was ordered to pay £1,000 in compensation to his victim.
He was also told he must carry out 200 hours of unpaid work for the community.
Judge Keen warned Johnson: “If you don’t, or you commit any other offences, you will go to prison.”