A rugby player who left an opponent with a fractured eye socket was found guilty yesterday.

Connor Weetman, of Gascelyn Place in Chippenham, Wiltshire, was playing in an under-18s clash against Woodford Rugby Club when he attacked David Hutchison.

During the game between Chippenham and Woodford on July 14 last year, Mr Hutchison had been entangled with another player at the edge of the game after a heavy tackle.

He was still on his knees when witnesses saw the 19-year-old Weetman running towards him before punching him in the side of the head, Snaresbrook Crown Court heard.

Onlookers said the blow was so powerful they heard the bones in Mr Hutchison's skull crunching.

Weetman was allowed to finish the match at Woodford Rugby Club in High Road, Woodford Green, because the referee had not seen the attack.

But the player was arrested by waiting police officers moments after he stepped off the pitch following his team's 34-22 victory.

Mr Hutchinson was left with a broken cheek bone, a fractured eye socket and needed a titanium plate fitted to the bone.

He still reports very little feeling on the right side of his face and believes the trauma wrecked his A-Level results.

Weetman was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, and must also complete 225 hours of unpaid work and pay a £100 victim surcharge.

Weetman was convicted of inflicting grievous bodily harm but cleared of the more serious charge of causing GBH with intent.

The judge, Ms Recorder Alicia Jolles said: 'Mr Hutchinson suffered considerable pain for at least one month after the incident, and it affected his preparation for his A-Levels, and he feels this impacted materially on his final results.

“There was no justification for the punch being thrown, you were not acting in self-defence or defence of another – it is not clear whether you were acting recklessly or with some intention.

“I take into account that rugby matches are highly charged places and people do get very hyped up and adrenalin levels run high.”