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Jack Grealish attack: Fan who punched Aston Villa star locked up for 14 weeks

Birmingham | Crime | Published:

A Birmingham City fan who punched Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish on the jaw after invading the pitch has been jailed for 14 weeks.

Paul Mitchell has been jailed for this attack on Jack Grealish. Photo: Andy Shaw for the Express & Star

Paul Mitchell, who pleaded guilty to assault and pitch encroachment, blew kisses to Blues fans as he was led away by stewards following the attack in the 10th minute of Sunday's Birmingham Derby.

The 27-year-old pub worker and father-of-one, from Rubery, has been banned from attending matches for life by Birmingham City.

The moment Paul Mitchell attacked Jack Grealish during Sunday's derby match. Photo: Andy Shaw for the Express & Star

Passing sentence, magistrate Alison Fisher told Mitchell: "This type of behaviour is completely unacceptable - a view shared by your own football club.

"Mr Grealish has stated that he was shocked and scared and feels lucky that it wasn't worse.

"Players such as Mr Grealish are entitled to protection. We have therefore gone outside of our guidelines in the interests of justice."

A steward holds Mitchell after Jack Grealish was knocked over

Chairwoman of the bench Ms Fisher and another magistrate ordered Mitchell to pay £100 to Grealish as compensation for the pain, discomfort and shock caused by the assault.

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Mitchell was also hit with a £115 victim surcharge and £135 in prosecution - and given a fortnight to pay the total sum of £350. He was also handed a 10-year football banning order by the court.

In a statement read to magistrates from Grealish, who went on to score the winning goal in Sunday's game, he said: "I cannot help but feel how lucky I was in this incident.

"It could have been so much worse had the supporter had some sort of weapon."

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Birmingham City has also banned another supporter for life for "a series of vile and malicious tweets" relating to Jack Grealish and his family.

Threats

Earlier, Mitchell's solicitor said his family had had to leave their home due to threats following his arrest after the "high-profile" incident.

Vaughn Whistance told the court: "He cannot explain what came over him yesterday morning.

"His initial foolish intention was to just go onto the pitch and whip up the crowd."

Mitchell is escorted off the pitch

He added: "There have been various comments posted on different social media

"My client's young family have had to leave their home address to move to outside of Birmingham through fear that they would suffer serious harm or even death."

Grealish, 23, went on to score the only goal of the game in the 67th minute and said despite the attack it had been one of the best days of his life.

'Disgusting'

Speaking after the assault at St Andrew's - and a separate incident in which Manchester United defender Chris Smalling was confronted by a fan on the pitch - former England striker Alan Shearer warned players' lives could be at risk unless the authorities take urgent action.

"It is absolutely disgusting and if we don't stamp it out now, next time it could be a knife," Shearer said in his column in The Sun.

"It's that serious. Where are we at in football when some thug thinks that is what he is going to do?"

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Meanwhile, a fan who ran onto the pitch at the Emirates Stadium during Sunday's match between Arsenal and Manchester United and pushed United defender Smalling has been charged with common assault.

Gary Cooper, 30, from Chertsey, Surrey, has also been charged with pitch invasion and has been bailed to appear at Highbury Corner Magistrates' Court on March 26, the Metropolitan Police said.

"It's that serious. Where are we at in football when some thug thinks that is what he is going to do?"

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