Electrician, 34, who claimed leg was deliberately broken during football match, loses £150,000 in court battle

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An electrician who claimed his leg was deliberately broken by a defender during a football match with friends has lost a court battle to claim £150,000.

Billy Coppins, 34, blamed a tackle from Tony Wrigley during the friendly in west London in November 2016 for his horror injury.

Mr Coppins had both bones in his right leg shattered by the challenge, which he said came so late the ball was already ‘in the back of the net’.

It was electrician Mr Coppins’ third goal of the match, putting his side 3-0 up after 30 minutes, having already converted a penalty conceded by Mr Wrigley for the handball.

He sued the defender, claiming he deliberately tried to hurt him because he was ‘angry’ at losing and ‘the red mist had descended’.

But Mr Coppins’ claim was dismissed by Judge Heather Baucher QC last week, who said the injury was the result of a ‘last ditch attempt’ by Mr Wrigley to save a goal.

Billy Coppins (centre, with girlfriend and lawyer), 34, blamed a tackle from Tony Wrigley during the friendly in west London in November 2005 for his horror injury

But a judge last week ruled the tackle was only

But a judge last week ruled the tackle was only an “integral part” of a “contact sport”. Pictured: Wrigley (centre) leaving court

During the case at Central London County Court, the judge heard that the two groups of friends had hired Middlesex Stadium, Ruislip, for the game.

It was for fun and was to be followed by beers and fireworks, while a young steward had been drafted in to act as an unprofessional referee.

The attacker’s lawyer, Andrew McNamara, told the judge: “Mr. Wrigley seemed increasingly frustrated with his team’s lack of success, and his conduct on the pitch began to deteriorate.

“About 30 minutes into the first half, Mr Coppins then scored a third goal after beating the opposing keeper and tapping the ball over the line.

“That is to say, that phase of play was over and the ball was ‘dead’.” He was very close to the mouth of the goal.

During the case in Central London County Court, the judge heard the two groups of friends had rented Middlesex Stadium, Ruislip, for the game.  Pictured: Mr Coppins and his girlfriend

During the case in Central London County Court, the judge heard the two groups of friends had rented Middlesex Stadium, Ruislip, for the game. Pictured: Mr Coppins and his girlfriend

“Suddenly and without warning, and just as he was about to turn to his left, he was tackled by someone from his right and rear who made such violent contact with his right leg that he suffered comminuted fractures to his right tibia and fibula.

“It is the case of Mr Coppins that the ball was not in play, that the incident did not occur due to a legitimate challenge from two opposing players trying to gain possession of a ball” loose ‘and, if deployed, that the phrase ’50/50 ball’ is entirely inappropriate.’

Mr Coppins told the judge he stood with both feet planted on the ground seconds after scoring his hat-trick when the tackle came.

“I had both feet on the ground with my cleats in the ground – that’s how my leg broke,” he said.

But, for Mr Wrigley, Jibreel Tramboo insisted he had simply made “an error in judgement” and had no intention of committing a “grotesque act of foul play”.

He was “already engaged in sliding tackle when the ball left Billy’s feet”, he told the judge.

Testifying, Mr Wrigley told the judge: “I tried to get between the ball and the goal to block the shot. I had no intention of hurting him at all.

“The ball was moving. The player and I went for the ball and collided. When you hit the ball in front of you at this speed, it gets ahead of you and breaks free.

“When I made the tackle, he was about to kick the ball. I tried to block the shot. He comes from one side and I come from the other.

Mr Coppins sued Mr Wrigley for ‘injury to the person’ and negligence, but the judge convicted him.

Giving her judgement, she dismissed claims Mr Wrigley grew increasingly frustrated as the match wore on to suggest an incident between the two could be happening.

The contact between the players in the minutes before the incident had not been a sign of Mr Wrigley’s frustration at the defeat and was “part and parcel of the game”, she said.

‘I am satisfied that Mr Wrigley was doing nothing more than going to the ball,’ she told Central London County Court.

“I reject the claim that he ‘targeted the man’… It was a last resort tackle and, as it turns out, it was an error in judgement.”

She continued: “I find that both the Claimant and the Defendant engaged in the normal course of the game.

“It’s a contact sport and I find their engagement before the tackle was an integral part of the game.

“I am not convinced that their interaction was such that when Defendant saw Plaintiff running towards an open objective, the red mist descended and Defendant deliberately wanted to ‘eliminate’ Plaintiff or acted in some way in retaliation. “

She said: “I accept the evidence that it was indeed a last minute tackle on the goal line. When committed in this manner, I find that the defendant’s only intention and purpose was to prevent the ball from crossing the line.

“I am satisfied that he failed, and the claimant scored and after scoring the claimant’s leg returned to the ground.”

She added: “I find that… the defendant was just doing the tackle because ‘he wanted to win’.

“I do not consider that the defendant was fully aware of the risk he was taking, as I consider that the moment the defendant began his tackle he perceived that he was able to recover the ball and prevent the requester from scoring.

“I am not convinced that the defendant understood that his imminent tackle carried a real risk of serious injury.

“While the court has full sympathy for the plaintiff and his unfortunate accident on my findings, the claim fails for negligence and trespass.”

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