A football fan has been banned from every league ground in England and Wales for three years after he lit a flare in Aldershot Town’s ESS Stadium and then assaulted two stewards who tried to eject him.
Factory worker Luke Stock admitted possessing a flare at a sporting event and two charges of assault by beating when he appeared before Aldershot magistrates on Thursday (January 2).
Prosecutor Fiona McMurray said the offence took place in the away area of the ground’s East Bank during Aldershot’s 4-1 FA Trophy victory over Worcester City on December 14.
She told the court Martina Ashburner, who was a steward at the game, saw a cloud of smoke rising from the uncovered stand.
CCTV operators identified the offender as 20-year-old Stock, and Miss Ashburner and two assistants told the City fan he was being ejected for letting off the smoke bomb.
They took him by the arms but Stock told them ‘I can have you’ and tried to struggle free, the court heard.
Miss McMurray said Stock pushed Miss Ashburner, making contact with her chest and winding her. He also wrapped both legs around her ankles, causing her to lose balance and fall to the ground.
Stock also assaulted Daniel Saunders, a member of the ground’s security staff, by grabbing his left fingers and bending them to the side, the court was told.
The prosecutor reminded magistrates that these sort of incidents make national headlines.
Setting off flares has become a controversial issue at football matches, and last October a linesman was hit by one thrown from the Tottenham supporters’ end during their Premier League match against Aston Villa at Villa Park.
“Thankfully on this occasion there was no injuries but it could have been a different story,” added Miss McMurray.
Lizzy Cox, defending, asked magistrates to give her client credit for his early guilty plea, adding Stock placed the smoke bomb on the ground where there was no one else around. She told the court he very much regretted the incident and his own club had imposed a three-match ban on him.
“He’s a young man and football is a significant part of his life,” she said.
After retiring to consider their decision, court chairman David Perren told Stock: “You threw the firework, although we accept the distance wasn’t that great, you had no idea where it was going to land.”
In addition to the three-year football banning order, Stock, of Carrock Fell in Worcester, was fined £90 for each assault and ordered to pay £85 court costs and a £20 victim surcharge.
He was also told to pay compensation of £100 each to Miss Ashburner and Mr Saunders.