Sheffield United thug who punched Middlesbrough fan banned from every stadium in country

Violence erupting at the Riverside Stadium in MiddlesboroughViolence erupting at the Riverside Stadium in Middlesborough
Violence erupting at the Riverside Stadium in Middlesborough
A teenage Sheffield United thug filmed by police landing a punch on a Middlesbrough fan outside the Riverside Stadium has been banned from every football ground in the country.

Yob Christopher Mitchell was captured on camera in 'disgraceful scenes' when more than 200 fans clashed following Middlesbrough's 1-0 victory over Sheffield United in August.

A police officer was left in hospital and a child was injured during the melee.

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Teesside Magistrates’ Court heard Mitchell was among 2,000 Sheffield United fans at the match, some of whom became 'volatile' after a last-minute equaliser was disallowed.

The 19-year-old was seen in a small group of “hard-line” hooligans dressed in Stone Island clothing entering the car park where they targeted the 'Boro fan.

Part-time labourer Mitchell was seen to punch the middle-aged Middlesbrough supporter on the head before running back into the crowd.

Police, who filmed the incident, caught up with Mitchell, with a South Yorkshire policeman helping to identify him.

The footage was shown at the hearing today (Tuesday).

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It showed children gesturing as grown men square up and hurl missiles from behind wire fencing to chants of ‘who are ya?’

Police frantically try to keep order, ordering fans to “move away” as police dogs growl at troublemakers.

The chaotic clip goes on to show a gang of Sheffield United hooligans charge at the 'Boro fan, who was kitted out in a yellow shirt.

They rain down a flurry of strikes at the cornered man before police intervene.

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The footage shows the victim stand up afterwards, and then take aim at the yobs.

In mitigation, it was claimed the victim had spat at Mitchell - who simply retaliated.

“He got carried away with the crowd,” claimed a probation service worker, who said Mitchell had been drinking before kick-off but was sober during the incident.

However, his “foolish” act landed him a three year football ban, and cost him his Sheffield United season ticket.

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“He’s a man of previous good character who has lost that as consequence of being involved in a foolish incident,” said his solicitor Stewart Heywood.

“Sheffield United have already said he’s not welcome at their ground so the season ticket he was paying for is effectively pointless.

“(It’s) a mistake he genuinely regrets.”

During the hearing Mr Heywood claimed both sets of fans were to blame, and questioned why they weren’t kept apart.

Previously, Cleveland Police Assistant Chief Constable Jason Harwin, a former South Yorkshire Police officer, claimed holding fans back may have sparked more violence.

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“When planning for games we do sometimes consider holding fans back, but we must alert them beforehand,” he told the Gazette.

“Doing so at such short notice could have caused more trouble, it would not have been effective.”

Police made a string of arrests following the violence and issued appeals for information about the culprits across Teesside and South Yorkshire.

The court heard when officers knocked at the door of Mitchell’s home, in Brinsworth Hall Crescent, Rotherham, his mum was there to see him arrested.

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Mitchell pleaded guilty to using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intent to cause fear of, or provoke violence, on August 12.

Magistrates told Mitchell to complete 200 hours of unpaid work as part of a 12-month community order.

“We agree that it was an impulsive action of short duration and as a result of alleged provocation,” said chair of the bench Keith Kitching.

“What we have seen on that screen today is absolutely disgraceful - behaviour like that can’t be unpunished.”