A FOOTBALL fan who claimed he was threatened by racist abusers who forced him to act as a mule and carry a smoke bomb into the Stadium of Light, has been banned from attending games.
Mohammed Absughe, 22, was caught trying to enter SAFC’s ground with a smoke-generating device hidden in his trousers, Sunderland magistrates heard.
The student, who is doing a masters degree in international tourism, had travelled by coach from Birmingham to Sunderland to watch Aston Villa take on the Black Cats, on January 1, 2014.
Prosecutor Neil Fodor said Absughe was seen by a member of security staff to be secreting something down his trousers, as he approached one of the gates.
He was searched and an object was found under his clothing. Absughe told officers: “I’ve got a smoke bomb.”
When interviewed by police, he said he had travelled to Sunderland by coach with his younger brother, but then had been met by a group of males he had “issues” with because they were racist.
Absughe said the group told him to take the device with him into the ground or they would take him round the corner and assault him. After initially denying the offence, Absughe, of Beilby Road, Birmingham, admitted possessing a firework when entering a sporting event, but he contested the application for a football banning order, arguing that he does not pose a risk of disorder.
Alison Gurden, defending, said: “He has been to football for many years and has seen smoke bombs go off on many occasions.
“He has never seen the crowd concerned about smoke being let off at football stadiums.
“He was a mule being asked to take one canister in for another fan, and the reason he didn’t plead guilty straight away is he believed he had been threatened, he believed he had a defence.
“He now accepts there were stewards he could have spoken to.
“The device effectively looks like a large tube of fruit pastilles. The top is popped and it gives out smoke.
“You drop it or kick it and it just rolls down the stand. He had no intention of doing that, he simply had it in his possession.”
Under the terms of the football banning order, Absughe is prevented from attending or travelling to specified games for three years and he must surrender his passport when England play away.
He was also told to carry out 60 hours of unpaid work, pay £200 in costs and a £60 victim surcharge.
Sunderland Chief Superintendent Kay Blyth said after the case: “We work closely with Sunderland football club and do everything we can to ensure the safety of supporters at football matches.
“Flares and pyrotechnics of any kind have no place inside football stadiums, they are incredibly dangerous and could cause serious injury.
“Many people in the North East, and indeed throughout the country, are passionate about football and turn out to support their team every week.
“The vast majority of these fans are well behaved and act responsibly at matches.
“Unfortunately, there are a small minority of people who engage in disorder and they are in no way reflective of the behaviour of true football fans.
“This case should show that if you are caught bringing flares or pyrotechnics inside stadiums then you face being arrested, being put in front of the courts and being banned from going to football matches.”