Teenage Luton fan in court after taking firework to Sunderland play-off match at Stadium of Light

He was caught after someone tipped off a steward

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A teenage away-day football fan who tried to take a firework into Sunderland’s ground has avoided being banned from games.

But the Luton Town supporter, who is under 18 so cannot be named for legal reasons, was warned about his future conduct at matches by a judge.

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At South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court, he was told any further soccer-related misconduct would see him barred from arenas.

The youngster, who is from Luton, was caught with the flare as he stood among away fans about to gain admittance to the Stadium of Light.

It came ahead of the Championship first-round play-off clash on Saturday, May 13, which the Black Cats won 2-1. 

Prosecutor Stephanie Cook said police found the firework in one of the defendant’s pockets after being tipped off by a steward.

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The defendant pleaded guilty to a charge of being in possession of a firework when entering a sports ground.

Ms Cook asked District Judge Zoe Passfield to impose an immediate football banning order on him.

Such an order would have prevented him entering any football ground in the UK for between three and five years.

Defence solicitor Tom Morgan argued his client had not caused any trouble in over a decade of following his team.

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And he said the teenager was not known to police hooligan spotters and his actions on the day were out of character.

Mr Morgan added: “He is a young man who is very polite to speak to. He has taken this very seriously.

“He is not someone who has been before the courts before. This is the first time he has caused any problems.

“He says it was never his intention to throw it. He would have been right up in the gods and would just have discharged it.

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“Banning orders are hugely restrictive. This was a very foolish or naïve decision by someone who loves his football team and loves his sport.”

Judge Passfield told the defendant he was old enough to know the seriousness of his actions and had given her reasonable grounds to impose a banning order.

But she noted his lack of previous convictions, his attendance at hundreds of matches without incident and that the flare had not been discharged.

Refusing the prosecution application, Judge Passfield said: “This is just enough for me not to make the order.”

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But she added: “Next time, there will be a banning order. We can’t see you back in court again. You know what will happen if you do.”

For his offence, the defendant was sentenced to a six-month referral order and must pay £85 court costs and a £26 victim surcharge.

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