City football thugs jailed

David Bale Nine Norwich City fans were today beginning jail terms after going on the rampage in a city centre following a heavy defeat by the club.

David Bale

Nine Norwich City fans were today beginning jail terms after going on the rampage in a city centre following a heavy defeat by the club.

The yobs, as well as three other City fans who escaped jail, hurled missiles, bricks, concrete blocks and chairs at opposition supporters following the club's 4-0 defeat away to Leicester on February 16 last year.

Yesterday at Leicester Crown Court the ringleaders were jailed for a total of five years and three months after a judge said it was “pure chance no one was hurt”.

The three other City fans were given suspended sentences and orders to do unpaid work, whilst two Leicester City fans were also jailed for their part in the trouble.

All of the defendants were given football banning orders for six years, in what was arguably the worst incident of violence involving Norwich fans for many years.

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Jailing them, Judge Michael Pert QC told the defendants: “Each of you bears responsibility for what the others did. It may be the case that each one of you has personal mitigation but this has to be set against what each of you did in public in the city centre of Leicester and the terror you brought to ordinary citizens.

“It was pure chance no-one was hurt. It was no consolation to people in the city centre that you might have been a good father or a valued employee.

“I have to send a message that this kind of activity has nothing to do with football, and it shows no consideration for the rights of innocent bystanders. It was gratuitous thuggery, and most of you don't have the excuse of youth and were at an age when you knew full well what you were doing.”

The court heard that trouble had flared when a group of Norwich City fans left the match at the Walkers Stadium early and started walking into the city centre, where a group of Leicester fans were congregated.

The court was shown CCTV footage taken just after 5pm in Loseby Lane and High Street in Leicester, in which the fans were seen to hurl missiles, bricks, concrete blocks and chairs at each other. One brick landed at the feet of a young girl standing nearby, but luckily no-one was injured.

Philip Gibbs, prosecuting, said: “Members of the public were placed in danger and forced to either flee or take refuge in shops while the defendants threw whatever was available at the opposing side. Those participating had no regard for people simply going about their lawful business.”

Ten of the Norwich fans had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to affray and three had pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of threatening behaviour.

The Norwich fans jailed for seven months were James Asbery, 25, of Kingswood Avenue, Taverham, Nigel Broom, 38, of Orchard Road, Spixworth, Andrew Collison, 41, of Olive Road, Norwich, Gary Cox, 46, of Aldryche Road, Norwich, Leon Horton, 44, of Wilks Farm Drive, Sprowston and Ben Potter, 36, of North Park Avenue, Norwich.

Mark Gilby, 44, of Greenacres Drive, Poringland, Mark Hipperson, 38, of Saxon Meadows, Bawdeswell and Michael Davies, 39, of Guernsey Road, Norwich, were jailed for three months.

Adam Ford, 21, of St William's Way, Norwich, Thomas Stammler, 20, of Ferrars Court, Huntingdon and Paul Cossey, 21, of Marlingford Way, Easton, were given suspended sentences of seven months for two years and ordered to carry out 100 hours unpaid work.

Jamie Gilligan, 18, of Unthank Road, Norwich, who had previously pleaded guilty to affray, will be sentenced next week.

Leicester fans Graham Anstiss, 45, of Wycombe Road, New Humberstone, and his son Damian Anstiss, 23, of Ditchling Avenue, Dane Hills, were jailed for seven months.

Another Leicester fan, Craig McLean, 43, of Maplin Road, Leicester, pleaded not guilty at an earlier hearing and faces a retrial next month.

Stephen Spence, mitigating for Asbery, said the root cause of his offending was that he could not hold his drink.

He said: “He drinks to excess, is a troubled young man and needs to get to grips with his drinking problem. But there are signs that he is, and he has met a partner at work and has a responsible job.”

Charles Myatt for Broom said: “He has expressed genuine remorse. He is the sole breadwinner for his family and his wife is now 30 weeks pregnant.”

Collison's counsel Peter Barr said he was a married man with three children, and his last football related violence was 22 years ago.

Mr Barr, also representing Cossey, said his client has aspirations to join the RAF. He said: “He had drunk about eight or nine pints, and did things he would not have done if he had been sober and is deeply ashamed of his behaviour.”

Charles Myatt for Cox said the defendant was not looking for trouble when he left the match early, and Mr Barr, for Davies, said he was deeply shocked and remorseful, and had handed in his season ticket at Norwich because he wanted nothing more to do with football.

Stephen Spence said Ford was young, of previous good character, and was a naive foolish youngster who went along with the crowd.

Jonathan Seely for Gilby said it was a moment of madness and he bitterly regrets what happened.

Mr Spence said Hipperson had 22 personal references which were handed to the judge. He said Hipperson started a printing company a couple of years ago which now employs seven people, and this was totally out of character.

Charles Myatt said Horton was ashamed that he let himself and others down including his wife and six-year-old daughter.

Jonathan Seely said Potter had written a letter to the Leicester Mercury expressing remorse, and Claire Matthews said Stammler was a thoroughly decent young man and this was an act of sheer stupidity and completely out of character. She said he had drunk to excess.

After the sentencing, Leicestershire police inspector Rob Widdowson said: “We are pleased with the sentence and feel that it sends out a message that we will not tolerate any violence in the city of Leicester and will work tirelessly to bring offenders to justice.”

For more on the case including an exclusive interview with one of those jailed see tomorrow's Evening News.

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