Twelve men, including two from Leamington, have been jailed over violence that broke out between Coventry City and Northampton Town fans which escalated after a long-time city fan had a glass thrown into his face.
They were among a total of 14 defendants to appear at Warwick Crown Court to be sentenced following the incident outside the RAOB Club in Foleshill Road, Coventry, in August 2016.
Nine City fans and two Northampton Town supporters, had pleaded guilty to affray, with the other two, Michael McEnery and Nathaniel Simon, admitting a less serious public order offence.
One of the Northampton men, Jake Marriott, was found guilty after a trial of wounding Coventry supporter Roger Marsh by throwing a glass in his face, but cleared of doing so with intent, and Jamie Markie was found guilty of affray.
Prosecutor Daniel Oscroft said: “The case involves a large-scale public disorder between two groups of football fans near the Ricoh Arena in Coventry on the afternoon of the 27th of August 2016.
“It was recorded by a number of CCTV cameras outside the RAOB Social Club in Foleshill Road.”
There was a confrontation between a large group of Coventry City fans and about half a dozen Northampton Town fans on the driveway at the side of the club leading to the car park.
The Northampton fans had turned up looking for a clash, knowing where to go following and exchange of Instagram messages between Markie and Jack King, who had responded that he could ‘get together six people for a fight.’
Words were exchanged between the two groups, and club steward Joanna Forward courageously stood between them to try to keep them apart.
But the City group, who had been drinking in the club, began to follow as the Northampton fans made their way back towards Foleshill Road, and there was a brief scuffle.
“It is very much Marriott’s act of wickedness that then sparked the violence. He threw a glass into Mr Marsh’s face from a distance of no more than three feet, straight into his face.
“That sparks the violence which ensues, with punches, kicking and kicking on the ground.”
Mr Oscroft pointed out there were young children around, including Robert Hulm’s four-year-old son, who he was taking to the match, and who was taken from the scene by Mrs Forward as Hulm picked up a glass and threw it one of the Northampton group.
“The Northampton contingent ran from the scene down the road, followed by some of the Coventry group,” added Mr Oscroft before detailing exactly what each person had done with the aid of a ‘story board’ prepared by Dc Craig Harding.
Sentencing the men in three groups, Judge Anthony Potter told them: “I have to sentence you all for your parts in a large-scale incident of public disorder between groups with different affiliations less than an hour before kick-off on a day when Coventry City were due to play Northampton Town at home.
“It is clear a social club steward stepped in between the two groups in an attempt to calm things down.
“There was time for you to calm down and step away, but none of you chose to do that.
Instead, the exchange continued with the prospect that it would erupt in violence.
“It was therefore no surprise when Mr Marriott chose to escalate it by throwing a glass into the face of Mr Marsh.”
Addressing the City defendants, Judge Potter remarked: “Although a number of you have expressed concern about Mr Marsh, it is notable that in the aftermath of that attack, not one of you went to attend to Mr Marsh as he was lying bleeding on the floor.
“You turned your attention to the other group who were making their way away in a cowardly fashion, and pursued an attack on them.”
He told the Coventry defendants they would get credit for handing themselves in following police appeals after the incident.
But he added: “I have to focus not just on your individual roles, but on the essence of the offence and the necessity that deterrent sentences are passed in cases like this.
“I have to have in mind the impact it has on the public confidence to wander round to pubs and social clubs on a Saturday afternoon without fearing these kinds of incidents of thuggery.”
Of the Northampton men, Marriott, 20, of Croughton Close, was jailed for 16 months; Markie, 18, of Briar Hill Walk, for 12 months; and Simon ,27, of Finedon Road, for four months.
Morgan Bosley, 19, of Floribunda Drive, Northampton, had his sentencing adjourned because his barrister had not attended, and he was granted bail.
Of the City fans, King,24, of Hopton Close, Coventry; Hulm, 27, of Ambleside, Potters Green, Coventry; Gary Evans, 48, of Kingfield Road, Coventry; and Jason Gallacher, 28, of Heath Road, Bedworth, were all jailed for eight months.
Thomas Davies, 19, of Newlyn Close, Nuneaton; and Joseph Hall, 21, of Goodfellow Street, Leamington, were both jailed for seven months.
Ryan Miller, 21, of Cashmore Avenue, Leamington, was jailed for six months; and Michael O’Donnell, 46, of Arbury Avenue, Coventry, for five months.
The two who escaped custody were Steven Stanley, 63, of Jackers Road, Coventry, who was sentenced to six months in prison suspended for two years and ordered to pay £150 costs; and McEnery, 53, of Wigston Road, Coventry, who was sentenced to three months suspended for two years and ordered to do 60 hours of unpaid work and to pay £500 costs.
Of the Leamington defendants, Judge Potter said Hall had very soon found himself at the front of the group confronting the Northampton contingent.
He then joined an assault on one of them before pursuing the Northampton fans as they ran away, observed the judge, who told him: “You became involved, and not on the fringes, but in the thick of it.”
And he told Miller: “You attended this social club with your friend Joseph Hall, and when things erupted, you were in the thick of things.
“You were holding a bottle which you dropped, but you did not hold back from violence and you threw two or three punches.”
In addition, eight-year football banning orders were imposed on Marriott, Simon and Markie, who the court heard was already subject to one imposed last year.
Judge Potter also made King, who had kicked one man and thrown a bottle during the incident, subject to a football banning order for six years.
But no banning orders were made against the other men after Ian Windridge, for Davies and Evans, argued: “The fact that they happen to be football supporters does not mean it’s football-related.”
He pointed out that the Coventry group were simply having a drink at a social club prior to the game and, with the exception of King, had no anticipation of the Northampton fans turning up or there being any trouble.
After sentencing all of the men, Judge Potter added that he wanted to commend Dc Harding for producing the storyboards which he said had ‘made the roles of the individual defendants much easier to follow.’