A football club has come under fire by its own fans over a U-turn on signing a disgraced player who was jailed for domestic violence.
Reece Thompson was jailed in April 2019 for battering his former girlfriend Danielle Thomas, but was taken on trial by Selby Town during pre-season earlier this year.
Fans of the club met the news of his arrival with anger with some supporters saying it sent out the wrong message to victims of abuse.
The Robins later stated that handing the 26-year-old a trial was a ‘serious error of judgement’ and that he would not play again for the club.
But the club has now changed its position, stating they didn’t condone his actions but felt he deserved a second chance.
Ms Thomas, from Doncaster, was left fearing for her life when she suffered a broken jaw and severe bruising during a three-day ordeal. Thompson forced her to lick paint off the floor, hit her with an iron bar and smashed a mirror over her head.
Reece Thompson, who was convicted of assault and grievous bodily harm in 2019, was taken on trial by Selby Town during pre-season earlier this year
The statement read: ‘During pre-season we trialled a player by the name of Reece Thompson.
‘At the time many supporters and non supporters expressed their opinion on the trial due to the events and court proceedings in Reece’s past.
‘Following this trial we released a statement stating that Reece would not be joining our team on an ongoing basis.
‘Since then a great deal of discussion has taken place within the club, and with Reece himself as to his actions, his sentence, and what comes next for him.
‘As made clear in our original statement, the club does not condone Reece’s actions and we can only imagine the impact upon those involved.
‘For what he has done, Reece has rightly been judged in a court of law and served his sentence.’
The former Lincoln City youth player, who had spells with the likes of York City, North Ferriby United and Guiseley, was jailed in April 2019 for battering his former girlfriend Danielle Thomas (pictured, some of her injuries)
They added that it was ‘not their place’ to ‘continue to further punish Reece’.
They said: ‘With that sentence now served and with the ongoing work Reece carries out to understand and learn from his behaviour.
‘We have come to the conclusion that it is not our place to continue to further punish Reece for his actions, he has received his punishment and carried out his sentence, and with that in mind we believe that a second chance could and should be provided both in employment and in recreation.
Reece Thompson, who was convicted of assault and grievous bodily harm in 2019
‘Further to this, we believe that being part of our club and being surrounded by the strong management team we have in place can further help Reece to overcome his past and to ensure that he learns from his actions and is able to fulfil a role within society.
‘We understand there will be many that disagree with our stance, likewise there will be those who believe he has served his sentence and should be allowed to now carry on with life.
‘We hope going forward Reece will be judged on his actions from this point with his knowledge that the expectations and standard of behaviour expected of him are high.’
One fan said he’d never watch the team he supported his entire life again, and urged the club to reconsider.
They said: ‘Will never go to watch this team I supported all my life again. Please reconsider or accept losing lifelong fans like me.’
Another fan slammed the move, and said he’d rather the team struggled than watch Thompson ‘banging’ in the goals.
Miss Thomas (pictured) previously said she feared for her life when she suffered a broken jaw and severe bruising at the hands of Thompson during the three-day ordeal
Scratches to Miss Thomas’s back are pictured after the assault
They said: ‘180 degree turn around by the club. I think I would rather miss out on promotion than having him banging in goals.’
Chris de Souza branded the decision ‘disgusting’.
He said: ‘This is a disgusting decision to make. It is not your place to say you forgive a man who beat his partner ‘with an iron bar, smashing her head with two mirrors and forcing her to eat paint’.
‘And then belittled her on social media and was recalled to prison. The fans and public made it clear he is not welcome at this club. Shame on you.’
Thompson, 26, was sentenced to a 40-month custodial sentence along with a ten-year restraining order for domestic violence after he pleaded guilty to damaging property, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and inflicting grievous bodily harm.
His victim told court previously: ‘Reece repeatedly hit me. He hit me with an iron bar, broke my jaw and smashed a mirror over my head.
‘I was made to lick paint up off the floor and then he smashed another mirror over my head. It was when he picked up the second mirror that I thought I was going to die, I screamed for him to stop or he would kill me.
‘He told me to get my arms down and take the beating like a real person.’
Thompson was sent back to prison in February 2020, a month after his release after posting a number of inappropriate tweets in relation to his conviction.
He also came under fire for announcing he was ‘digging his boots out’ and looking for a club.