A Watford fan who punched an Albion fan in the back of the head after he threw chips has been given a three year football banning order
Nicholas Wheeler, 45, had drunk ten pints and shots by the time Stephen Byrne saw him and his friends hurling insults at Albion fans at the Watford match on 8 February.
Today, Wheeler pleaded guilty to assaulting Mr Byrne as he walked away, leaving him with a lump and bruise the size of a 50p piece.
Prosecuting, Martina Sherlock said: “Mr Bryne’s attention was drawn to a large group of males who were Watford fans. They were singing and seemed to be drunk.
“He stopped to buy some chips and as he walked with his chips he saw a disturbance between another man and the loud group and he said to the group you have had too much to drink and you should quiet down and have some milk.
“He was told to f*** off by the group so he threw a couple of chips in their direction.
“He turned around to move away and felt a punch to the back of his head.”
Wheeler, from Watford, was detained by Amex staff until the police arrive.
He was arrested, and at interview admitted the assault, saying he believed Mr Byrne had thrown something at him and it wasn’t what he would normally have done.
PC Darren Balkham, Sussex Police football liaison officer, said: “I would like to thank Brighton and Hove Albion stewards for their swift action in dealing with this incident which enabled us to prosecute the male and put the evidence to the magistrate to support a banning order.
“Supporters who think this behaviour is acceptable are not welcome at football and especially at the Amex.”
As well as the football banning order, Wheeler was given a 12 month community order, requiring him to undertake five days of rehab and 80 hours of unpaid work.
He was also ordered to pay £250 compensation, to pay £85 in costs and a £90 victim surcharge.