Coventry City fan weeps in court as he escapes football banning order after admitting punching man following game against Sunderland at Stadium of Light

A Coventry City fan wept in the dock as he escaped a football banning order after admitting his part in violence which flared following his team’s game against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light last month.

Saturday, 25th May 2019, 9:00 am
Ben Thackeray outside South Tyneside Magistrates' Court.

Married dad Ben Thackeray, 36, was arrested after the game on Saturday, April 13, for jumping on the back of a police officer to attack another man who was being led away in handcuffs outside the ground.

Self-employed plumbing and heating engineer Thackeray, who said he had drunk five bottles of alcohol on the day of the match, admitted punching his victim on the temple.

South Tyneside Magistrates' Court.

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He added that he did so in the belief he had been attacked by the same man in an earlier confrontation which saw Thackeray’s teeth knocked out, an earlier hearing at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court heard.

Thackeray, who is also a football coach for a junior team, admitted a charge of threatening behaviour and reappeared at the same court for magistrates to determine whether or not he should be made subject to a football banning order, prohibiting him from attending games.

Chris Wilson, mitigating, told the hearing: “Before you today is a gentleman hitherto of impeccable character.

“On the day in question he was leaving the Stadium of Light with his friends.

“His friends were walking in the direction of Mr Thackeray when he saw an elderly gentleman on the ground being assaulted by others.

“That man had a walking stick.

“He then endeavoured to assist the man but at that time Mr Thackeray was assaulted himself.

“He was punched to the face and sustained facial injuries whereby his tooth was cracked and broken and had a cut to his lip.

“He managed to compose himself and walk away.

“Unbeknownst to him, others had assaulted the perpetrator of the assault against Mr Thackeray.

“Mr Thackeray saw the person who he had been assaulted by and Mr Thackeray ran over and hit him, behaviour that is entirely out of character.”

Mr Wilson added: “To Mr Thackeray’s credit, when he was arrested he made full and frank admissions.

“When he went to help the person on the ground he did not know if they were a Coventry or a Sunderland fan.

“He was a peacemaker.

“There is nothing in his history that would suggest that this gentleman has a propensity to act unlawfully or violently.”

Chairman of the bench Maria O’Neill said the court would fine Thackeray, of Delamere, Bedworth, Warwickshire, £733, while also ordering him to pay a victim surcharge of £73 and costs of £85.

She told Thackeray he would not be made subject to a football banning order.

“We feel that this incident was out of character,” said Ms O’Neill.

“We believe you are unlikely to behave in that way again.”