An amateur footballer wept in the dock as he was cleared of causing grievous bodily harm to an opponent whose leg he broke.

Sean Merryweather was charged following the incident in a North East Wales League game which left Penyffordd Lions player Sam Richardson with a fracture of the tibia and fibia.

Mr Merryweather, who was playing for Acton Park at the time, was accused of a deliberate assault on Mr Richardson by sliding into a high tackle.

Eye-witnesses claimed the 28-year-old used excessive force in tackling his opponent with the impact hitting just below Mr Richardson’s knee.

But the defendant insisted he made a fair challenge and had no intention of hurting Mr Richardson, who needed five operations and a skin graft afterwards.

Jurors at Mold Crown Court took two hours to clear the footballer of the charge of assault occasioning grievous bodily harm.

Afterwards Judge Niclas Parry thanked the seven women and five-man jury for its diligence and admitted: “It’s been an unusual case and a sad case too.

“But we have seen fine young men who live a healthy sporting life give evidence and I thank you for the way you have dealt with them.”

The court heard that Mr Merryweather had an excellent disciplinary record before the match in April last year. He had only picked up four yellow cards in his career and the red card he received as a result of the challenge was his first ever.

Team mates told the court how he was “distraught” afterwards and it was revealed the sales manager, of Llys-y-Groes, Wrexham has not kicked a ball since the game.