Rugby riot yobs guilty

Abandoned: Police moved in after fighting erupted between fans.  Picture: Marie Caley.
Abandoned: Police moved in after fighting erupted between fans. Picture: Marie Caley.
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EIGHT rugby supporters have been convicted of violent disorder after running riot at a match in Doncaster resulting in the game being abandoned.

Fighting broke out at the Keepmoat Stadium during a Challenge Cup tie between Doncaster and amateur Leeds club Queens, with the thugs seen punching stewards and attacking rival fans.

Sheffield Crown Court heard Carl Parker, Dean Townend, Thomas Roden, Jason Myers, Samuel Hendrickson and Rodney Menon, as well as Gregory Ward and his brother Martin Ward, were among the rowdiest supporters, and that the disorder was probably sparked by Doncaster scoring a try.

Judge Peter Kelson QC said the fans, all from Leeds, deserved severe sentences for their “intimidatory, unpleasant and aggressive” behaviour, but that he was unable to jail them all due to the length of time the case had “dragged on”.

Six of the thugs escaped with fines, while Parker - who injured 47-year-old steward Iain Audsley - was sentenced to a six-month suspended sentence and Townend was locked up for six years on an unrelated drugs charge.

Tahir Khan, prosecuting, said the riot broke out on March 7, 2009, in the Keepmoat’s east stand, which held supporters of both clubs.

He said the match was being overseen by extra security staff, who became concerned about the Queens supporters’ behaviour during the first half.

“They were shouting, swearing and banging on the advertisement boards,” Mr Khan said, adding Parker, 19, was spotted on CCTV as one of the “most active” in the disorder.

“He stood out as being very vocal and clearly intent on causing trouble,” he added. “Doncaster’s jubilant fans celebrated a try, much to the annoyance of the Queens supporters.”

Mr Khan told the court Parker was seen shouting at a “frightened” 13-year-old boy before the rival fans came together.

“Punches were thrown by various people, and Parker was observed punching Iain Audsley in the face, causing him to fall backwards over the seats.”

He said Mr Audsley felt blood running down his face, and suffered a cut above his eye and a fractured cheekbone, while other stewards sustained bruises.

Witness Michael Meeks described Parker as having “lost the plot”, and said the teenager tried to bite his leg.

The court heard Roden, 19, punched Doncaster fans Jason Blanchard and Christopher Pearson, who was also attacked by Myers, 38. Gregory Ward, 23, told police he “saw red” and also began to throw punches.

Mr Khan said 31-year-old Hendrickson, who is mixed race, claimed he became violent after being racially abused and spat at.

The match was abandoned after 61 minutes.

Paul Morris, defending, said: “It was David and Goliath in the eyes of the Queens rugby club. They don’t play to anything like the sort of crowds that were at the Keepmoat on that day, or at the sort of stadiums they were playing on this occasion.”

Last December Townend, 23, was caught with £345,000 worth of cocaine at his home, which was searched by police after he claimed he was beaten unconscious by four men during the night.

Judge Kelson, sentencing, told the thugs: “This case required prison sentences on all of you, to deter others from behaving like this - but it’s so long since the offence I think my hands are tied.”

The court heard another rioter was previously convicted of the lesser charge of affray, while another was fined £350 for their part in the violence.

Parker admitted causing grievous bodily harm and violent disorder. He was sentenced to six months’ detention in a young offenders’ institution, suspended for 12 months, and must pay £500 compensation to Mr Audsley.

Roden, Myers, Menon, 20, and Gregory Ward were fined £250 with £500 costs, while Martin Ward and Hendrickson were fined £500 each. The six admitted violent disorder.