A FORMER child football star has avoided jail after he sexually assaulted a woman on a night out.

Niall Mason, from Brighton, has been given a six-month suspended prison sentence after admitting the attack.

Mason, 22, was touted as the next David Beckham when he was snapped up by Spanish giants Real Madrid at the age of seven.

As a boy he honed his skills at Hove Rivervale under-10s.

He now plays for League One outfit Doncaster Rovers and reportedly earns £4,000 a week.

Mason has been placed on the sex offenders’ register for seven years after the attack which happened during a night out last year.

The Doncaster Free Press reported that Judge Jeremy Richardson told Mason at Sheffield Crown Court: “You have sadly brought, once again, the occupation of being a professional footballer in to disrepute.

“You have not only let yourself down by this disgraceful conduct, but you have also let down your fellow football players.

“People look up to footballers, rightly or wrongly, particularly the young; and they will see this reported in the newspapers. What a dreadful example this will set.”

According to the Doncaster Free Press, the court heard how Mason carried out the sexual assault on a stranger, who was sitting next to him at the Pangea bar in Bawtry, South Yorkshire, during the early hours of February 18 last year.

The court heard he grabbed her hair and pulled her towards him before putting his hand up her jumper and groping her breast.

The victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, reported the assault to security staff and later to the police.

Mason initially denied the assault but his DNA was found on the woman’s bra.

In a victim personal statement read to the court, the woman said the incident had left her feeling “devastated” and “hysterical”.

She said: “I have often thought what I would do in a situation like this, and I’ve always thought I would shout, react, confront them. The reality is I just froze.

“I told him no on more than one occasion. I’ve hardly slept since this happened.”

A spokesman for Doncaster Rovers Football Club said: “The club has been aware of the allegation against Niall Mason dating to February 2018, which he has always strongly denied.

“He changed his plea immediately prior to Tuesday’s hearing, which resulted in the conviction.

“The club will consider its options, and will be making no further comment.”