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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 69912
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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My son has been told by Coventry police that he will be charged

Customer Question

My son has been told by Coventry police that he will be charged with a s.4 offence. This relates to an incident at the Coventry v Preston football match on December 22nd. My son asserts that in the final minutes of the game, a Preston fan (who has not been identified) crossed the segregation line towards the Coventry fans; this is not shown on cameria. My son, who had been taunted by the Preston fans, went to meet the Preston fan, also crossed the segregation line and is seen on camera to raise his fists, in defence, to the man. What is not captured on camera is that the man then assaulted my son by striking him in the face and running back into the crowd. My son asserts he did not retaliate; he was not arrested nor cautioned at the time, although his season ticket was confiscated.
In mitigation, he has been a life-long supporter of Coventry City, has no history of violence and has never reacted to taunts from opposing fans. He admits he crossed the segregation line and is deeply sorry; he was distracted because his wife was pregnant and due to give birth. He voluntarily attended a Coventry police station as requested, was cautioned and gave a statement. He now intends to defend the charge.
Please advise of the likely penalty.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
Has he been in troublebefore?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.


Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.

Why is the other person's actions not shown on CCTV? Of course, CCTV does not capture everything but if its captures your son's actions then it should capture those of the people around him.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

We don't know; presumably the footage he was shown is that taken by the Coventry City ground cameras?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
Yes, but why would they only show your son's actions? If this was a face to face combat it should show others?

This would make a difference to sentence
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I agree. My son has not been shown the start of the incident by the Preston fan, nor the end when the man hits him in the face. We assume footage doesn't exist?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
Well, or the club just don't want to hand it over etc.

Why was his season ticket confiscated? I'm not clear how that could have happened if he wasn't arrested or cautioned?

Did the club know about the incident and act upon it?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

The season ticket was confiscated by the police at the time. My son is adamant he was not cautioned or arrested - in fact he shook hands with the policeman. He was told, by the police, to contact the club for the return of the season ticket but when he did so, there seems to have been a breakdown of communication between the Club and the police. Coventry City responded with words to the effect that the season ticket would be returned "after the case had been heard"; at this point my son had not been informed he would be charged and assumed the offence was so minor, he would be banned from attending a few matches or maybe be given an official warning

Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.

There was never any realistic prospect of anything other than prosecution for this. They will be saying its football related violence and their game will be to get a football banning order which they can only get at court.

Obviously I haven't seen the footage and that will make all the difference to this case. I imagine that it falls in between the middle and top sentencing bracket though. They may be saying its gang related as they often do with violence at football matches but it doesn't involve weapons or throwing of missiles so overall its probably a middle category offence.

For a middle cat offence the starting point is a high level community order and the range is a low one to 12 weeks custody.

If he is of good character and he pleads guilty then it would drop probably to a medium level order.

On the facts you present its likely to remain a S4 but sometimes they will take a S5 which would reduce the sentence to a fine. Obviously that is optimistic though given that they have CCTV. If their goal is to get a banning order though then a S5 might be a compromise both sides can accept.

In terms of a banning order, they may well apply. There is some case law that says that the violence must be football related. Its not sufficient for it to just take place at a football match. Overall, he seems to be saying it was just a normal dispute rather than a dispute involving targeting a person for supporting a different team.

In terms of defending the charge, realistically he should reconsider. He crossed the segregation line and met an opposing fan with fists raised. There is no offence in crossing the segregation line but meeting a person with fists raised is clearly a S4. He should be pleading guilty and getting credit for the plea.

Even if no other witnesses show at all, they can just play the CCTV and prove the offence.

I am sorry but I have to give you truthful information.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you. That's very helpful. At least he knows what to expect.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
No problem.

Please remember to rate my answer.

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