Jail ‘almost inevitable’ for Chichester City footballer guilty of GBH

Winger Josh Clack is on trial for assault
Winger Josh Clack is on trial for assault

Chichester City FC star Josh Clack was convicted today (Friday) of delivering a devastating punch outside a nightclub to a lone passerby and warned by a judge that prison was ‘almost inevitable’.

The 24 year-old winger was told by the judge it was ‘only good luck’ that the victim, who suffered bleeding on the brain and two facial fractures, survived. Now he must wait until the new year to hear his fate. Sentencing was adjourned.

Semi-pro Clack, of Oakwood Close, Midhurst, West Sussex was convicted by a Kingston-upon-Thames Crown Court jury of inflicting grievous bodily harm on 20 year-old Kieran Smithers.

Bailing him until sentencing on January 17 Judge Stephen John told him: “I’m adjourning sentencing for a pre-sentence report.

“The fact I am doing so and renewing your bail is not an indication of sentence. Custody is not only uppermost in my mind, but it is almost inevitable you are going to prison.

“This was a serious offence and at no stage have you expressed any remorse for this offence.”

The jury returned an 11-1 majority verdict that Clack was not defending himself when he struck the blow just after 3am outside Guildford’s Casino nightclub on October 18, 2015.

He had already consumed a beer, two vodkas and two other drinks during a night out with a group of pals, one of whom playfully startled Mr Smithers.

The complainant pushed back in surprise and was backed-up by two concerned off-duty soldiers as the incident escalated.

“In the second incident the prosecution say Josh Clack deliberately punched Kieran Smithers in the face or head, causing really serious harm,” said prosecutor John Coates.

“He had a fracture above his left eye and a fracture of his nasal bone and a blood-filled swelling to the back of his head.”

Mr Smithers spent 9-10 days in hospital, where a CT scan showed he also had bleeding inside the brain.

Clack fractured his hand delivering the punch and it was still in a cast when he was questioned by police.

Clack hid the truth from medical staff at Chichester’s St Richard’s Hospital, claiming that he suffered the injury when punching a wall.

He told officers. “I said I punched a wall. I did not want to look bad, I know a lot of people in Chichester, I play football for Chichester.”

“I’ll let him go home for Christmas,” announced Judge John after the verdict. “It’s only good luck this man did not die.

“He had bleeding on the brain and if he had died this would have been a verdict of manslaughter.

“He’s almost inevitably going inside.”

Clack told the jury he is not a violent person or a heavy drinker, yet has a police caution for assault and a drink-drive conviction.

His lawyer Piers Power said: “I ask your Honour to consider all sentencing options. I accept this case crosses the custodial threshold.

“Two years have passed without any misbehaviour and there may be room to avoid a custodial sentence.”