Leeds United hooligan Aaron Cawley devastated over football ban
FOOTBALL thug Aaron Cawley is said to be "devastated" after being sent to jail and slapped with a lifetime ban from his beloved Leeds United.
The 21-year-old's family has spoken exclusively to the Echo after he ran onto the pitch and assaulted goalkeeper Chris Kirkland during last week's Yorkshire derby – causing outrage among millions of TV viewers.
Cawley was this week sentenced to four months in prison for the assault which left Sheffield Wednesday keeper Kirkland sprawled on the turf, needing medical attention.
But worst of all, say his family, is the fact that Leeds United – the club he has supported since childhood – has turned its back on him, banning him from setting foot inside its Elland Road ground ever again. Speaking at the family's Hester's Way home, a relative said Cawley had been left "gutted" by the sanction.
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"Aaron is devastated about what happened," said the man, who asked to remain anonymous.
"But he has said he is sorry. He has apologised to both clubs, and now he is going to do his time. I have spoken to him and he is doing okay.
"He is obviously banned from going to Leeds matches for the rest of his life, which he is gutted about.
"But what you saw on TV is not normally like him. Aaron is a good lad and the guys he was with at the match are decent lads too. It was just the amount of alcohol he had. He is genuinely sorry."
A court heard this week that Cawley was too drunk to remember his actions in the clash on Friday night after drinking strong lager, vodka, and up to 10 pints of cider.
Footage from Sky Sports captured him dealing Kirkland a two-handed blow to the face then run back to the stands, grinning from ear to ear, before disappearing among the fans.
He was arrested in Tewkesbury nearly two days later and swiftly taken to court, where he admitted assault and entering the field of play illegally.
The family member said the sentence given was out of proportion with the crime.
"Four months is a lot for giving someone a slap," he said.
"It wouldn't be so serious if it happened in a factory or in any other workplace in the country. But because it was on TV and so many people were watching they made an example of him."
The family member added they all wanted to put the incident behind them, saying: "As a family we just want to draw a line under the whole thing.
"We're not proud of what happened, but we won't hide away from it either."