Fan handed five-year football banning order after missile was thrown during Sunderland AFC v Oxford United season opener

A football fan has been banned from all football grounds until 2024 after throwing a bottle inside the Stadium of Light.

By James Barker
Tuesday, 06 August, 2019, 11:04
The Black Cats drew against Oxford United

During Sunderland’s League One curtain-raiser against Oxford United on Saturday, August 3, police were called to deal with an away fan in the top-tier of the North Stand.

A supporter had thrown a plastic bottle from the top of the stand shortly after the visitors had scored in the first half. The bottle hit a Sunderland fan who was sat in the lower tier in the back of her neck.

Vinnie Eastman, 27, of Totteridge Road, High Wycombe, was arrested and charged with throwing of a missile within a designated football match and common assault.

On Monday, August 5, he admitted both offences at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court. He received a five-year football banning order and given an 18-month community order, an eight-week curfew and was ordered to pay compensation and a victim surcharge.

Chief Inspector Steve Readdie, of Northumbria Police, said: “It is totally unacceptable to throw a missile inside a ground – under any circumstances.

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“A woman who was sat in the lower tier of the ground was injured as a result of Eastman’s irresponsible actions, and given the distance that the bottle travelled, it could easily have been more serious.

“The overwhelming majority of supporters behaved responsibly and enjoyed the first game of the season. I would like to thank those fans who contributed to a special opening-day atmosphere.

“However, this should act as a reminder that anyone who endangers the lives of others will be dealt with robustly, and Eastman is now banned from every football stadium in the UK for the next five years.

“I would like to remind fans that banning orders not only prevent you from watching regulated football matches in the UK, but they can also affect your future career prospects as they may be disclosed to potential employers through a vetting process or DBS check.”

The order forbids Eastman from travelling abroad to watch international friendlies, qualification matches, tournaments, and attending any football matches in the UK until 2024, which includes Premier League, Championship, League One, League Two and National League fixtures, as well as England home internationals.