An Aston Villa fan who set off a flare when his team scored at the Amex last month has been given a three-year football banning order.
John McAuliffe, 51, dropped the flare in the away stands after Villa scored their late equalising goal on 18 January.
Today, he was ordered to pay £347 in fines and costs and told he can’t go to any Villa or England matches until 2023.
Prosecuting, Martina Sherlock said: “McAuliffe was wearing a blue coloured beanie style hat when captured on CCTV.
“An officer viewing it saw him removed an item from his dark coloured leather jacket, fiddle with it then he was seen to drop the item to the ground to the left of him.
“This took place directly after Aston Villa scored a goal.
“The flare was seen to go off in the area from where it had been in his hand then dropped.”
She added: “This was a situation which could have caused injuries to a number of people at a match.
“It could have caused a fire to clothing or paper or items on the ground in that area.
“It’s considered a dangerous action.”
Defending, Alison Reeby said that McAuliffe, a carpenter from Redditch, had been urged to set off the flare by other supporters after he discovered it in his coat pocket on his way into the stadium.
Ms Reeby said he had bought the flare before Villa’s last match against Leicester intending on setting it off in a field to commemorate the anniversary of his late father’s death.
But he had not been able to set off and it had remained in his coat pocket, where he forgot about it .
She said: “Mr McAuliffe has been an Aston Villa supporter all his life. It’s a family affair.
“This will potentially have an enormous effect on his life if you make the football banning order. He really does regret this.
“It’s very much a one off offence.”
The court heard McAuliffe had one previous conviction for a public order offence which was connected to football. The nature of the offence was not disclosed in open court.
McAuliffe was fined £230 and ordered to pay costs of £85 and a victim surcharge of £32.
He was banned from Birmingham for eight hours before or after any home Aston Villa game, and from any town or parish where an Aston Villa or England game is taking place for three years.
Speaking after the hearing, Sussex Police football liaison officer PC Darren Balkham said “I’m really pleased the court has taken into account the severity of using pyrotechnics in crowded places especially at football matches.”