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American man sentenced to 15 years in jail after punch kills referee

An amateur football player in the US has been sentenced to up to 15 years in jail after punching and killing volunteer referee John Bieniewicz.

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Bassel Saad, who has a history of violence, pleaded guilty to the charges last week and was sentenced this week. The incident occurred on 29th June last year during a match in the outskirts of Detroit, when the ref awarded a penalty kick to the other team and dismissed Saad from the pitch.

Witnesses in court said Saad “sucker punched” Bieniewicz, who died in hospital two days later. In the immediate aftermath Saad fled the scene while bystanders tried to resuscitate the stricken official.

Judge Cameron told Saad that he “personifies everything that is wrong with the escalation of violence in sports”, while Bieniewicz’s sister told the Detroit Free Press that the “senselessness is staggering. He killed John. He killed our joy. The pain of losing John is indescribable.”

Saad will serve a minimum of eight years behind bars.

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