Eight Aston Villa fans avoid jail after gang attack on Crystal Palace stewards - 05/10/2021
Source : My London NewsThe men were caught on CCTV in ugly scenes at Selhurst Park in South London
Eight Aston Villa fans who attacked stewards at an away match at Crystal Palace after a goal was disallowed have avoided jail.
Tempers flared after an equalising goal by Henri Lansbury was disqualified by the referee and captain Jack Grealish was booked for a dive in the build up.
A total of eight men were charged with affray.
Jack Baker, 22, Todd Kershaw, 36, Liam Miller, 30, Colin Fairgrieve, 54, Ryan Ross, 22, Mitchell Voss, 26, Kurt Griffiths, 42, and son Reece Griffiths, 21, all admitted affray after the game at Crystal Palace's Selhurst Park stadium.
At a sentencing hearing last month Baker, Kershaw and Miller were told to carry out unpaid work and Miller and Kershaw have been banned from attending football matches for the next three years.
Croydon Magistrates' Court heard the assault on stewards at the Selhurst Park Stadium on August 31, 2019 was captured on CCTV.
Miller, of Birmingham, went on to assault a police officer at another Aston Villa match three months later in November 2019 - for which he was handed a community order.
He was given an 18-week sentence suspended for 18 months for pushing stewards and kicking over the stadium's advertising boards at the August game.
Prosecutor Emek Yagmur said: "The CCTV shows Mr Miller stood to the front of the stand and a goal appears to be scored which was then subsequently disallowed.
The crowd starts celebrating and the defendant can be seen to go where the electronic hoarding is on the side of the pitch.
"A steward is seen to grab hold of him as he's not allowed in that area. He has not managed to get hold of him and the hoarding falls over as the defendant kicks it.
"The goal is then disallowed and the crowd becomes aggrieved and the defendant is seen to be animated with his hands held out and pushing back.
"He is trying to climb over the hoarding onto the pitch. As he's pushed back by the stewards he is shouting at them and has to be held back by a number of other stewards."
In addition to the suspended sentence, the forklift driver was told to carry out 80 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay £207 in costs and a victim surcharge.
Kershaw and Baker were let off with 12 month community orders.
The prosecutor said Baker, of Great Barr, Birmingham "threw several punches at the stewards" until he fell over.
Chloe Carvell, defending Baker, said he had to resign from his role in adult social services at Birmingham City Council because of the prosecution and now works as a binman.
She said: "He had drunk two bottles of Stella and had no sleep that day.
"He fell back and hit this on some metal and this caused him severe pain and that's part of the reason he reacted so badly. He saw red and reacted in self defence mode."
Ms Carvell said neither Baker nor Kershaw were "typical football hooligans".
She told the court Kershaw, of Swadlincote Derbyshire, owns a classic car restoration business and has lost a work contract after photos emerged of him at the match.
Prosecutors say Kershaw "slapped" an officer on the head as they tried to arrest another football fan who was misbehaving at the match.
This other man was never apprehended, the court heard.
Ms Carvell said: "The slap was to the top of the officer's hat. Mr Kershaw reacted impulsively.
"He is a passionate Aston Villa fan. His father, grandfather and great-grandfather lived opposite the park and he has been attending matches for 20 years and never been involved in an incident.
"He says he is sorry, ashamed and embarrassed and that it is extremely out of character."
Baker was told to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work and Kershaw was told to carry out 120.
They were both told to pay costs and a victim surcharge of £175.
At a hearing today (October 4) Fairgrieve of Wootton, Northampton, was fined £668 for grabbing a steward for "a few seconds" during the melee.
Prosecutor Caroline Floyd said: "The footage shows Mr Fairgrieve grabbing hold of a steward and then being held back. He is held and dragged back by two males."
Ms Carvell said the health and safety advisor was provoked by stewards who allegedly shouted that the fans were "white trash" and "w*nkers".
A statement from Aston Villa Football Club was read in court, stating discussions had been held about the lifelong fan and it had been agreed he could continue to support the team at matches.
The club said: "He has been known as one of our most dedicated supporters. He has since signed an acceptable behaviour agreement to ensure future exemplary conduct."
Scaffolders Kurt Griffiths of Perry, Birmingham, and his son Reece Griffiths of Great Barr, Birmingham, were given three month community orders with a six week electronically monitored tag.
The season ticket holders were also told to pay £180 in court costs.
Ms Floyd said: "Footage shows Rhys Griffiths at the front of the stands he is pushing at stewards and is then seen to grab hold of another from behind. He then grabs hold of his father and holds him back.
"Kurt Griffiths is seen at the front of the stands to grab a steward on the upper body. He falls down and he is then seen to be pushing another steward away and is held back by his son. His behaviour is described as being aggressive and he is seen to grab a police officer from behind."
At earlier hearings, Ross, of Castle Brom, Birmingham, was handed a community order with 150 hours of unpaid work and pay £175 in fines, and Voss, of Paignton, Devon, was told to carry out 80 hours of unpaid work and pay £180 in costs.