TWO football fans accused of being involved in violence which left a Sheffield Wednesday supporter fighting for life have walked free from court.
Dean Carroll, 28, and John Welsh, 22, were arrested and charged along with seven others after Owls and Hartlepool fans clashed near Hartlepool’s train station last August.
Kevin Taylor, 50, from Rotherham, was knocked unconscious after being punched to the ground by Hartlepool man Paul Bennett, 24, who is in custody awaiting sentence.
Teesside Crown Court heard Mr Taylor - known as ‘Sid’ - got caught in “no man’s land” between two sets of rival fans. He had to be airlifted to hospital and was in a coma for weeks.
Another Wednesday fan, Stanley Ryman, who had also watched the Owls’ 5-0 win, was attacked by Bennett and suffered a badly broken nose.
Mr Carroll and Mr Welsh were accused of joining in the assault on Mr Ryman, 47, and also of alleged yobbish behaviour.
But they were both cleared of any wrongdoing after a week-long trial. The jury found the men, both from Hartlepool, innocent of unlawful wounding and affray.
Mr Carroll said he had tried to stop Bennett from attacking Mr Ryman and put his arm between the two of them before ushering Bennett away.
Mr Welsh, a serving soldier with the Yorkshire Regiment, said he had no intention of getting involved in any violence and pushed Bennett in the back to force him away.
Trouble flared after a group of Wednesday fans were told to leave a pub where they had been celebrating victory. That was said to have angered other Owls fans waiting at the train station and two sets of supporters faced off.
Four other Hartlepool men, aged 21, 24, 25 and 48, have admitted various offences and will be sentenced on a date to be set.
Bennett’s father Paul Clark, 46, has admitted affray and assisting an offender by driving his son away.