THE man seen punching a horse during football violence in Newcastle at the weekend has insisted he is an animal lover.
Barry Rogerson, 45, from Morpeth, Northumberland, was caught on camera lashing out at a police horse before he was hauled to the ground by officers.
Speaking to newspapers, the unemployed factory worker accepted he acted stupidly, but said the horse startled him and made him panic.
He said: “I reacted stupidly. I did not go out to attack a horse.
“I love animals – I’ve got three dogs, a fish pond out the back and I feed foxes across the road.”
He said the pictures made the incident look worse than it was but that he had no excuse.
Rogerson was one of 29 people arrested on Sunday after Newcastle United lost 3-0 to arch rivals Sunderland in a derby game at St James’ Park.
Three police officers were injured during clashes with Newcastle fans amid sporadic violence across the city centre.
West Yorkshire Police said Bud the horse has shown no ill-effects but has been given some time off from frontline duties.