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Final defendant jailed over Bristol City v Swansea disorder

Bristol Magistrates' Court front entrance

Seventeen men have now appeared in court over disorder around a Bristol City v Swansea football match in Bristol in February.

Since March six men have been jailed for a total of 56 weeks for public order offences.

The latest to appear in court was Nigel Pritchard, 53, of Swansea. Judge Lynne Matthews sent him to prison for six weeks on Thursday 27 June. He must also pay £115 in costs and faces a six-year Football Banning Order (FBO).

The others’ jail terms were between six and 16 weeks. One defendant was from Swansea, one from Wellington and three from Bristol. All are between 24 and 52 years old.

The court handed five men suspended prison terms ranging from six to 24 weeks. The men must also complete between 200 and 240 hours of unpaid community work. If they break the conditions of their sentence within the next 12 to 14 months they will go to prison.

Six men have non-custodial sentences:

  • One man has a six-month overnight curfew as well as paying a fine and costs
  • Another must carry out unpaid work as well as paying costs
  • Three have fines of between £300 and £450 and must pay costs
  • One man has a three-year FBO for pitch encroachment and no other penalty.

The men’s FBOs mean they face prison if they attend a Football Association match, home or abroad.

Four other men aged between 20 and 30 – two from Bristol, one from Llanelli and one from Swansea – have cautions with conditions including fines, exclusion from grounds during matches, signing civil Acceptable Behaviour Contracts with the clubs and attending alcohol and victim awareness courses.

In all 21 men were identified by a police investigation involving Avon and Somerset Police, South Wales Police, British Transport Police, Bristol City FC, Swansea FC and Ashton Gate Stadium.

Bristol residents “sick and tired” of football violence

During the hearings Judge Matthews described the behaviour on the day as “outrageous”, “loutish” and “despicable”. She added that Bristol residents were “sick and tired” of football violence in the city.

DI David Lewis led the investigation. He said: “Football can attract a very small minority interested in causing disorder, rather than the game. We’ll continue to work with colleagues from other forces and the clubs themselves to make sure genuine fans can enjoy matches safely. I hope these sentences show how seriously we and the courts take these offences and will reassure real football supporters. Violence around football matches will lead to jail time.”

Bristol City Chief Executive Officer Mark Ashton said: “We are very supportive of the action taken by Avon and Somerset Police and other agencies in bringing these individuals to justice and we fully applaud the decisions of the court. Ashton Gate Stadium has a very strong record of match day safety and zero tolerance towards crowd disorder. Mark Kelly and his staff deserve a lot of credit for their match day management.”