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Footy spectator jailed for assaulting umpire

April 30, 2013

A spectator has been jailed for assaulting an umpire during a country football grand final in South Australia.

Jeffrey John Hunter, 36, of Port Pirie in South Australia will spend the next seven months in jail for the attack during last year's Spencer Gulf League grand final.

The court was told Hunter walked to the middle of Memorial Oval at three-quarter time and punched the umpire in the head.

The king-hit left umpire Paul Fitzgerald, 56, with a cut eye and fractured socket and a nose fracture.

The court was told Hunter had consumed 10 beers and became unhappy with the umpire over on-field rulings.

Magistrate Peter Snopek reduced the jail sentence from 10 months because of Hunter's good record and early guilty plea but said there was a need to deter other people from such behaviour.

Fitzgerald, who has said he will never umpire again, continues to have surgery on for his injuries and told ABC news that the assault had drained him physically, mentally and emotionally.

He stated "I don't really want to be known as the king-hit umpire. Everything that is put in the papers, everything that's written, is the king-hit umpire."

In his victim impact statement to the court, Fitzgerald said he now struggled to go out in public and had little trust in people.

Reacting to the jailing, Fitzgerald said the penalty was appropriate.

Spencer Gulf League President Ken McLean said that the Association would have liked a harsher sentence imposed, advising that the League ommittee would meet to address Fitzgerald's concerns about safety and support for umpires.

McLean added "we've started (the) football (season) again and we've taken some measures to stop this type of thing, but speaking to the general football public they're quite amazed at any rate because, in over 100 years of football, it's the first time we've had an incident of this magnitude."

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