A SPORTS journalism graduate has been banned from attending football games after he let off a smoke bomb “to add atmosphere” to an FA Cup tie at the Stadium of Light.
Leeds fan Adam Battensby was in Sunderland to watch his team play the Black Cats, when he decided to smuggle smoke-generating devices into the ground.
The 24-year-old had bought the items on the internet and thought the rules surrounding them had been “relaxed”, Sunderland magistrates heard.
The insurance salesman was given a football banning order, after admitting possessing a firework at a sporting event, which prevents him from attending any Leeds Utd or international games for the next three years.
He could be locked up for six months if he breaches the order, which also means he has to surrender his passport when England play abroad. Prosecutor Neil Fodor said: “Police on duty within the grounds saw two males on CCTV discharging two smoke bombs. Mr Battensby was identified as one of them.
“He told officers he has bought the smoke-generating devices online three to four months ago and that he thought it would add to the atmosphere.””
Battensby, who lives with his mum and dad in Valley Road, Bramley, Leeds, read out an emotional letter to the magistrates.
He said: “I took the device to the game assuming the rules had been relaxed due to the frequency of these devices at football games.
“It was very naive of me and I had no intention to cause any harm. I could go to jail for this and it makes me feel horribly frightened.
“It would have a devastating effect on me.
“It would bring shame on my family. I have followed Leeds Utd for 15 years and it’s an incident I want to put behind me. The situation has brought a lot of stress.”
Battensby was also told to pay a £300 fine, £85 costs and a £30 victim surcharge.
Bench chairwoman Lynda Scanlan, said: “What you did with that smoke-generating device could have caused panic. It could have caused distress or harm of one sort or another to people in that stadium.
“I’m sure you now realise what a stupid thing that was to do.”
Sunderland Chief Superintendent Kay Blyth, said: “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. ”