Police officer had ‘no excuse for repeatedly punching fan in Sheffield’, trial jury told

A police officer had ‘no excuse at all’ for repeatedly hitting a football fan prior to a match, a prosecutor told jurors.

Tuesday, 6th August 2019, 16:02 pm
Liam Stewart leaving Leeds Crown Court.

PC Liam Stewart is accused of assaulting 18-year-old Chesterfield supporter Louis McAndrew by pushing him up against the shutters of a shop and punching him three times.

Last week, Mr McAndrew told a jury at Leeds Crown Court that the 33-year-old South Yorkshire Police officer had grabbed him by the throat to the point where he was struggling to breathe prior to Chesterfield's away match against Sheffield Wednesday in August 2017.

He also said that his nose had been broken in the incident.

In his closing speech to jurors on Tuesday, prosecutor Ian Brook said that Stewart's behaviour amounted to "totally improper police conduct".

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"PC Stewart had no excuse at all to use that amount of force against this young man," he said.

Mr Brook also told jurors that the defence argument that the officer had acted in self-defence was false.

It has previously been suggested in the trial that Mr McAndrew had been a member of a group of football hooligans known as the"Chesterfield Bastard Squad".

But Mr Brook said that this suggestion was a "red herring", that Mr McAndrew was not part of the group and that the "squad" had not posted anything on social media for three years and may therefore have disbanded.

He said that much of the defence case revolved around claims against the complainant that he said were "unproven" and "untested".

The incident took place near Hillsborough Corner prior to Sheffield Wednesday's home match against Chesterfield on August 8 2017, after Mr McAndrew and some friends had been given section 35 notices by Stewart and his colleagues which prevented them from attending the match.

Mr Brook said: "This power seems to be quite draconian - the police literally can take you off the streets.

"You're there to see a football match, you have paid money, and the police are able to come to you and say: 'Go back to whence you came.'

"So there has to be justified grounds for doing so."

The prosecutor told the court how Stewart said that Mr McAndrew had been "goading" people inside the Hillsborough Tap pub for home fans prior to the notice being given, and that he had been looking for a fight.

But Mr Brook said: "We say that it is most unlikely that he has done that - we would say inherently improbable.

"He is said to be, on PC Stewart's account, doing this alone after the others have run off and scarpered.

"This would be quite suicidal if the home fans were to take him up on his offer (of a fight), given what he has told you about being of slight build."

Stewart, of Hoyland, Barnsley, denies assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

The trial continues.