A football fan who brought a smoke bomb into The Hawthorns for Sir Alex Ferguson’s 5-5 farewell match has been handed a three-year football banning order.
Manchester United supporter Matthew Barton admitted possessing a firework or flare at a sporting event on May 19. The 20-year-old had been due to stand trial, but changed his plea.
Vinny Bolina, spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “The offence took place in a game between Manchester United and West Bromwich on May 19 – the last game of the season.
“The defendant was seen with it in his hand on CCTV and by stewards present. He was arrested and charged with possessing a firework or flare at a sporting event.” Barton, of Mell Stones,
Chorlton Fold, Greater Manchester, was made subject to a three-year football banning order as well as being ordered to pay a £140 fine, court costs of £150, and a £20 statutory surcharge. The bench also made a forfeiture and destruction order for the smoke grenade.
Pc Martin Portman, from the Force Football Unit, welcomed the sentence.
He said: “It was a challenging match which resulted in a number of arrests of both home and away fans. Flares and fireworks at games are banned in the UK for a reason – they have the potential to cause harm and distress, and are a serious fire risk. Anyone found trying to smuggle in any pyrotechnic devices can expect lengthy football banning orders keeping them out of all British grounds and from travelling to matches abroad.”
Manchester United fan Karl Henson also received a three-year football banning order after he was found guilty of throwing a smoke grenade during the same game after a trial in October. He was also given an eight-week jail term, suspended for 12 months.
Henson, of Salford, Greater Manchester, was found guilty of possessing a smoke grenade at a sporting event, on May 19. He maintained he picked up the smoke grenade after someone else activated it. Albion’s senior licensee steward Patrick Cook however said he watched Henson holding the grenade in one hand, while both of them were above his head, before he threw the device. HGV driver Henson was ordered to pay £300 costs and an £80 victim surcharge.