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Free to play in Wembley final

PUBLISHED: 09:28 19 April 2008 | UPDATED: 20:11 05 July 2010

SUSPENDED SENTENCE: Ali McKenna will not miss dream match.

SUSPENDED SENTENCE: Ali McKenna will not miss dream match.

A TOP local footballer is free to chase his dream of playing at Wembley after a judge spared him jail for his part in a late-night brawl, which left a man with serious injuries.

A TOP local footballer is free to chase his dream of playing at Wembley after a judge spared him jail for his part in a late-night brawl, which left a man with serious injuries.

Lowestoft Town's Alastair McKenna received a suspended prison sentence when he appeared before Ipswich Crown Court yesterday, leaving him free to join his teammates for the FA Vase final against Kirkham & Wesham on May 11.

The 22-year-old striker pleaded guilty to affray at an earlier hearing and appeared for sentence with six others involved in the outbreak of violence in Lowestoft town centre last summer.

Two other men, including McKenna's younger brother Ryan McKenna, received custodial sentences for attacking Barry Macklin outside the seafront Harbour Inn during the early hours of June 29.

The court heard Alastair McKenna, of Windsor Terrace, Kessingland, near Lowestoft, was seen to punch another of the defendants, Steven Dutton, and push Mr Macklin.

Addressing Alastair McKenna and two of the other defendants guilty of affray, Recorder Martyn Levett said: “I have watched CCTV footage and conclude there was an overwhelming display of violence.

“It shows beyond doubt that each of you was involved from the beginning to the end of this violent fight.”

Alastair McKenna, a regular member of Town's first team squad, was sentenced to 42 weeks in prison, suspended for two years. He was also made the subject of a supervision order for 18 months, ordered to take part in an aggression replacement training programme and sentenced to 100 hours' unpaid work. He has a previous conviction for a public order offence.

Matthew McNiff, mitigating for Alistair McKenna, said he had now “changed and grown up”.

Joanne Eley, prosecuting, said trouble flared outside the Harbour Inn, in Royal Plain, which was captured by CCTV security cameras.

There appeared to be no clear reason why fighting broke out although there was reference in police interviews to a dispute between the McKenna brothers and Steven and Blaine Dutton who are also brothers.

As the brawl developed, Barry Macklin was punched by Ryan McKenna and fell unconscious with a fractured cheekbone. At this point, co-accused Jed Cox kicked Mr Macklin leaving him with a fractured skull, which required emergency surgery after he developed a blood clot. Mr Macklin, a delivery driver, has only just been able to return to work.

Cox, 28, of Elm Tree Road, Lowestoft, pleaded guilty to a charge of grievous bodily harm and was sentenced to 32 months in prison.

Ryan McKenna, 19, of Windsor Terrace, Kessingland, pleaded guilty to wounding with intent and was sentenced to 14 months in a young offenders' institution. He had previous convictions for violent behaviour.

Recorder Levett, who ruled that Cox's attack on Mr Macklin was the most serious offence, said the fighting was fuelled by alcohol and added: “It is very fortunate that someone is not dead.”

Steven Dutton, 23, of Seago Street, Lowestoft, pleaded guilty to affray, and was said by the Recorder to have an “appalling” record of violent behaviour. He was given a 42-week prison sentence, suspended for two years, given a supervision order for 18 months, ordered to take part in an aggression replacement training programme and will have to do 240 hours of unpaid work. He will also be the subject of a curfew on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights for three months.

Blaine Dutton, 21, and also of Seago Street, pleaded guilty to affray and received the same suspended sentence as supervision order as his brother. He was also told to take part in a 'think first' programme and ordered to perform 150 hours of unpaid work.

Sam Adams, 19, of London Road South, Lowestoft, pleaded guilty to affray, but his sentencing was adjourned because the Recorder said he wanted to take into consideration missed appointments with the probation service.

Laura Cox, 22, of Northfields, Lowestoft, pleaded guilty to threatening behaviour and was given a 12-month conditional discharge. She is the estranged wife of Jed Cox.

In mitigation, Rebecca Lee, for Cox, said he was “deeply remorseful” for his actions. Richard Potts, for Ryan McKenna, said his actions were spontaneous and he had been trying to protect his brother.

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