West Ham supporters get football bans lifted after mass brawl with Sunderland fans

Crown Court
Crown Court

Six West Ham fans who were banned from matches after a mass brawl with rival Sunderland supporters have convinced a judge to allow them back at games.

The men got involved in terrifying scenes of city centre violence before their teams clashed on the pitch at the Stadium of Light in January 2013.

In February 2014 they were given suspended jail sentences, with unpaid work and other requirements, plus three year football banning orders.

At Newcastle Crown Court today the six, who appeared in person, made an application for the bans to be lifted - a year before they are due to expire.

Judge Jeremy Freedman agreed to allow the men back at matches and said all six are otherwise "decent young men" who have stayed out of trouble and complied with all aspects of the court orders since.

Craig Defew, 24, of Layhill Close, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, Harry Saunders, 21, of Martindale Avenue, Basildon, Essex, Matthew Dobberson, 21, of Padnall Court, Essex, Jack Donovan, 21, of Masiters Walk, Romford, Essex, Ryan Evans, 21, of Cumberland Close, Hornchurch, Essex, and Christopher Draddy, 27, of Cheriton Close, St.Albans, Herts, will now be allowed back at Premiership and England matches, which they had been banned from.

Judge Freedman said it appears the men have "learnt their lesson" by their court appearances.

The judge told them: "You are, all six of you, decent young men, none of whom have any significant previous convictions and, from what I have read in the letters you sent to the court, been getting on with your lives in a respectable and proper fashion.

"There is not much of the season left but you can enjoy the few remaining matches."

Judge Freedman said the violence the men were involved in at Sunderland was "disgraceful" and warned any further trouble could result in lifetime bans from football.

The judge said: "If any of you commits any kind of offence remotely similar to that which you did when you came to Sunderland you will find yourselves facing a ban for life."

The court heard applicants can apply to have football bans, which can be imposed for between three and five years, lifted once they have served two thirds.

The shocking confrontation outside Revolution bar in Low Row in Sunderland was captured on CCTV and led to both Sunderland and West Ham factions going through the courts.

Judge Freedman told them at the time: "Although this was a terrifying incident for those who had the misfortune to witness it, it was of very short duration.

"This was a serious incident of violence.

"I am satisfied it was planned, arrangements had been made in advance of for their to be an encounter between West Ham and Sunderland supporters.

"I cannot say who was responsible for the planning but I am satisfied there was communication via telephone or Facebook.

"This fight was arranged."

The court heard one witness to what went on said they felt "sick to the stomach" because of what they saw.

Charlie Adolph, 24, of Gibbons Close, St Albans, Hertfordshire, Jamie Hume, 31, of Clayburn Road, Hampton Centre, Peterborough, and Danny Brooker, 25, of Priory Avenue, Harefield, Middlesex, all successfully overturned their football bans at a previous hearing.