A Sheffield Wednesday fan who hurled a tangerine at Fulham supporters during a game has been banned from attending football games for three years.
Mark Ablett, aged 29, threw the piece of fruit at rival fans when his team lost 4-0 to Fulham at Craven Cottage.
Ablett was removed from the ground by stewards after the incident on December 20 was captured on CCTV cameras.
He told them: “I may have been stupid and thrown a tangerine or whatever.”
The finance officer, who works for a local government funded charitable organisation which trains school leavers in ‘employability skills’, was handed a three year Football Banning Order, fined £250 and ordered to pay £85 costs after admitting throwing a missile under the Football Offences Act.
Prosecutor Malachy Packenham said Ablett could not give a proper reason for throwing the tangerine into the 4,689 capacity Riverside Stand.
Mr Packenham told Hammersmith Magistrates’ Court: “The home team Fulham were playing Sheffield Wednesday at Craven Cottage when Ablett was seen to throw this item at the Fulham fans.
“He was identified by stewards and ejected from the stadium for the offence, which was captured on CCTV.
“Fulham say it clearly shows he threw the fruit at their fans and when ejected by security staff said ‘I may have been stupid and thrown a tangerine or whatever’.
“Otherwise, he could not give reasons for what he did.”
Jyothi Somavarapu, representing Ablett, called for him to be given a conditional discharge, calling the Football Banning Order ‘unreasonable’.
She said: ‘My client’s explanation was it was silly behaviour and he threw a tangerine, which he said landed on the pitch.
“His only explanation is that the game was not going that well and that’s the only reason he can think of.
“He says it was a silly thing to do and he would not do again - otherwise he is a sensible person and is remorseful for what he did.
“He is somebody who actually gives a lot to the community in his organisation’s projects and all he needs is a warning to him not to get into trouble again.”
But Deputy District Judge Kate Tulk said she had no other option but to ban Ablett from matches fort three years.
Sentencing him, she said: “You said this was a silly thing but I do not take that view - it had incredibly serious consequences.
“If that fruit had landed amongst opposing fans it had potential for them to respond badly and react and a whole load of consequences could have occurred.
“The throwing of a missile is a very serious offence.”
Ablett, of King Street, Clowne, Chesterfield, has no previous convictions.