Police officer cleared of assaulting teenage football fan before Sheffield Wednesday match
A police officer has been cleared of assaulting a young football fan prior to a Sheffield Wednesday match.
PC Liam Stewart was accused of causing 18-year-old Chesterfield supporter Louis McAndrew actual bodily harm by pushing him up against the shutters of a shop and punching him three times.
But a jury found him not guilty of the offence following a trial at Leeds Crown Court, court officials confirmed.
The court heard how the incident, which was caught on CCTV, happened in the Hillsborough area ahead of a Chesterfield versus Sheffield Wednesday match in August 2017.
Mr McAndrew had been asked to leave the Hillsborough Tap pub because he was an away fan and PC Stewart had later issued with him a section 35 order to leave the area.
PC Stewart insisted he was acting in self-defence.
He said the teenager had started to take off his coat in preparation for a fight with the officer and had dipped his shoulder in preparation for a punch.
Adam Birkby, defending Mr Stewart, told the jury: “Is it any wonder that PC Stewart’s initial reaction was, ‘I’ve got to use force here'’"
He said Mr McAndrew had a supposed "propensity to behave in an aggressive manner at football matches".
The barrister cited previous instances where the complainant had been "in the vicinity" of flares being set off at matches and arguments between fans, saying he had been given a three-year football banning order in March 2018.
Mr Birkby said PC Stewart had demonstrated ‘respect and restraint’ throughout his career and had not been subject to a complaint over the use of force before the incident.
When he gave evidence, Mr McAndrew was asked by Mr Birkby that rather than being a ‘true football fan’, he was in fact an ‘active football hooligan’ who had previously behaved in an ‘aggressive and antisocial manner’.
The witness denied this, but acknowledged that he had banned from attending games until 2021.
By Dave Higgens, PA