Three football fans have appeared in court following disorder at a Bristol City match – including one who spat blood in a police officer’s mouth.
Trouble flared on February 2 during the game at Ashton Gate when Swansea fans came to the front corner of the Atyeo Stand and clashed with stewards.
Bristol City fans also spilled over from the front corner of the Dolman Stand to confront Swansea fans and police.
Samuel Staynings, Ross Higginson and James Hayes, who are Bristol City supporters, and Swansea fan Nigel Pritchard appeared at Bristol Magistrates’ Court on June 20.
Staynings, 27, avoided jail after spitting blood into the mouth of a police sergeant, while Hayes was handed six weeks in prison for throwing punches at opposition fans.
Higginson, 24, was handed an eight-week jail term for a public order offence. Pritchard is due to be sentenced at the same court on June 27.
‘He spat blood’
Coach-builder Staynings, of Headford Avenue, admits assaulting Sergeant Stuart King in Greville Smyth Park, near the stadium.
District Judge Lynne Matthews said: “Sergeant King was trying to keep Swansea and Bristol City fans apart.
“The officer approached a Bristol City fan and started to move him back.”
This supporter was dad-of-two Staynings. He spat blood onto the officer’s visor and some went in his mouth.
The officer recalled Staynings pointing and laughing afterwards.
In his statement, Sergeant King said: “February 2 was by far the most serious disorder I have ever witnessed as a police officer at a football match.”
He said the experience left him “exhausted and disillusioned”.
The officer needed a vaccination for Hepatitis B following the spitting incident.
“To be attacked in such a cowardly way is disheartening,” Sergeant King said.
The defendant’s representative said: “No-one knows this is a serious offence better than Sam Staynings.
“He recalls being pushed by an officer and does not recall spitting at him. He is disgusted by what he has done.”
Staynings has daughters aged three and four.
“Prison would have a major impact on the family,” the representative said.
District Judge Matthews said: “Sergeant King described himself as being disillusioned so many grown adults could behave in the way they did.
“You say it was accidental. I struggle with that, from what I have read from Sergeant King’s statement – that you were laughing afterwards.
“But I will suspend incredulity and accept that while you didn’t intend to spit blood in his mouth, you were amused at what you had done. This court is not amused. It was outrageous.”
He was handed 24 weeks in jail, suspended for18 months, as well as 240 hours of unpaid work.
Staynings must pay £1,250, including £1,000 in compensation to the victim.
He is subject to a football banning order for five years.
Jail for Hayes
Hayes, of Sharland Grove, has been jailed after pleading guilty to threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour outside Ashton Gate stadium.
Footage played in court showed the 29-year-old “fighting and throwing multiple punches at supporters from the other side”, District Judge Lynne Matthews said.
Hayes’ representative said: “He is a young, hard-working man of good character. He works very hard.
“He has had some drug issues. He suffered quite severe abuse when he was younger and it has taken him a number of years to deal with that.
“He wasn’t involved in any disruption in the ground. His involvement is a few seconds. It was a moment of madness.
“He rushed forward and can’t explain why he was foolish enough to get caught up in it all, a decision he bitterly regrets.”
Hayes was handed a six-year football banning order and six weeks in prison.
Higginson, of East Dundry Road in Whitchurch, was jailed for eight weeks after admitting threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour. He is subject to a six-week football banning order.
Pritchard, 43, of Swansea, admitted the same offene. A pre-sentence report will be put together before Pritchard appears in this court next Thursday to be sentenced.
Nine other people have admitted offences relating to the Bristol City and Swansea match.
You can follow live updates from magistrates’ court today here.