21 men jailed for Nuneaton football disorder

21/01/2014

Twenty-one defendants, the majority of whom are supporters of Nuneaton Town Football Club, have been jailed for a total of 19 years and six weeks at Warwick Crown Court for their part in a large scale football related disorder which occurred in the town centre of Nuneaton last year.

On Saturday 16 March 2013, Nuneaton Town FC were hosting Lincoln City FC in the Blue Square Premier Division and kick off was scheduled for 3pm.

On the morning of the game, supporters of Lincoln City began to congregate at the William White Public House in the town centre.

Around midday, the home team supporters began to gather at the nearby Granby Public House.

In excess of 40 officers were deployed to Nuneaton town centre, their primary roles being to keep the two rival sets of fans apart, prevent any violent confrontation between them and to protect the public.

Both groups of fans began to hurl chants at each other and several attempts were made by the Lincoln supporters to confront the Nuneaton fans, but the police managed to prevent any trouble from breaking out. 

As kick off approached, the Lincoln fans were given the option of a safe escort to the ground by the police and the majority of them accepted. The Nuneaton fans were given the same option, but the vast majority declined. It became clear to the police commanders at the scene that the home fans were not there to watch the match but were present in the hope of engaging in a violent confrontation with the away supporters.

The Nuneaton fans remained at the Granby pub and continued drinking. They were contained outside the pub by a loose cordon of police officers. A small group of away fans then appeared and began to goad the home fans which resulted in the Nuneaton fans throwing missiles over the police lines towards the Lincoln fans.

The police asked the home fans to calm down and disperse immediately, but they failed to take heed of this warning and instead they began to turn their aggression towards the police. A decision was then made by the police to contain the fans inside the Granby public house. It was at this point that they began to vandalise the pub and use items from it as weapons including chairs and tables which were then thrown at the police through the open pub windows and the rear fire exit doors.

Later that evening the Nuneaton fans were allowed to leave by the police one at a time and 87 of them were arrested of which 22 were later charged with violent disorder to which all pleaded guilty. 

All of the defendants are also likely to be made the subject of football banning orders the conditions of which will be determined at a future hearing. 

Andrew Gee, Senior Crown Prosecutor from West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), said:

"These men had gone out that day not to support their local team but to arrange a fight with the rival supporters.

"On a Saturday afternoon members of the public, which included young families with children and the elderly, were put in fear of their own safety after they were exposed to an orgy of hostility and violence which was carried out by a section of fans from their own home town.

"Fuelled by rage and alcohol, and denied access to their rival supporters, a section of the group, instigated by key figures within the group, began to direct their anger and frustration towards the police who were then subjected to disgraceful mob violence.

"It is testament to the tactical decisions made by the police commanders at the scene and the brave actions of the front line police officers who stood their ground in the face of extreme abuse, provocation and violence that the disorder was contained and no members of the public were injured.

"The CPS were consulted by the police in the early stages of the investigation and advised that all defendants should be charged with violent disorder. The prosecution team continued to work closely together throughout the whole of the proceedings to ensure that the case could be presented to the court in the best possible way.

"The case demonstrates that the police will ensure that those who choose to engage in this type of behaviour will be identified and arrested and brought before the courts, and the CPS will prosecute such cases robustly.

"The sentences imposed send out the clearest possible message that football related alcohol fuelled mob violence will not be tolerated and those who choose to engage in such behaviour will be punished severely by the courts."

After being given the appropriate discounts for their guilty pleas the defendants received the following immediate custodial sentences: 

  •  Shane Bartell, aged 48, - 12 month
  • Luke Daniel Beers, 22, - 15 months
  • Jamie Scott Cheshire, 22, - 6 months
  • Stephen Dunn, 42, - 12 months
  • Andrew Joseph Gadsby, 25, - 6 months
  • Nicholas Ginnelly, 38, - 18 months and 3 months consecutive for a separate Affray with co-defendant Laurie Spencer (total 21 months)
  •  Patrick Luke Ginnelly, 28, - 15 months 
  •  Stephen Ginnelly, 51, - 6 months
  •  Andrew Michael Gunn, 24, - 15 months
  • Stuart James Hall, 42, - 9 months 
  •   Andrew Hextall, 51, - 12 months
  • Gary William Kent, 33, -  6 months
  • Ryan Marc Palmer, 38, - 15 months
  • Jack Paul, 18, -  18 weeks
  • Michael John Phillips, 34, - 15 months
  • Adam Paul Rogers, 43, - 6 months 
  •  Dean Alan Shannon, 26, - 15 months
  • Adam Smith, 19, - 10 months 
  •  Laurie Spencer, 32, - 15 months and 6 months consecutive for a separate affray with co-defendant Nicholas Ginnelly (total 21 months) 
  •  Michael Ronald Such, 23, - 6 months
  • Jack Williamson, 23, - 11 months

A youth who cannot be named for legal reasons pleaded guilty at his first hearing at Leamington Spa Magistrates' Court and was sentenced on 13 August to a 12 month Youth Referral Order, 40 hours unpaid work and a three year football banning order.