Three Bristol City fans guilty of Leeds supporter attack
THREE Bristol City fans accused of involvement in an attack on a Leeds United fan at Ashton Gate have been found guilty of violent disorder.
Bristol Crown Court heard Darren Priaulx was set upon after celebrating among home fans when his side took the lead against City in a Championship fixture in February last year.
The Leeds fan and his relatives bought tickets in the Dolman Stand, which is intended for City fans only, after failing to buy tickets in the away end because it had sold out.
The court heard Mr Priaulx's father bought the tickets without telling the operator on City's ticket booking line that he was a Leeds fan. He had been told the only place where four seats were available together was in The Dolman Stand.
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When Mr Priaulx cheered Leeds' first goal of a 2-0 victory, 17 minutes into the match, City fans surrounding him punched and kicked him down the steps of the stand and stewards had to battle to keep the angry mob away.
Mr Priaulx was escorted from the ground covered in cuts and bruises and with his Leeds shirt ripped to shreds.
Four men who denied violent disorder went on trial this week.
They were: Christopher Moore, 47, of Longway Avenue, Whitchurch; Kevin Naish, 31, of Soundwell Road, Kingswood; Neil Grey, 32, of St Michael's Avenue, Weston-super-Mare and Paul Stitt, 47, of Church Lane, Whitchurch.
Mr Naish was cleared by a jury yesterday but the other three men were convicted.
They will be sentenced after reports have been prepared, along with fellow City fans Lee Charlton and Dean Ellis, who pleaded guilty to the charge at an earlier date.
Stephen Dent, prosecuting, told the jury there was a scarcity of Leeds tickets for the Championship game last season.
He said Mr Priaulx, from Plymouth, went to the game with his father, aunt and brother as part of his aunt's birthday celebrations, but had learned the Leeds end was sold out.
"They were sold tickets in the Dolman Stand, which they were told was a family-friendly environment," said Mr Dent.
"The first goal was after 17 minutes, by Leeds United.
"Darren Priaulx, he admits rather foolishly, leapt from his seat to celebrate. He was surrounded by Bristol City fans as his actions annoyed them."
Mr Dent said at that moment the mood of the surrounding crowd changed and the City fans chanted "Leeds scum".
Mr Priaulx was grabbed and hit from behind before being bundled down the steps of the stand, with some 20 people punching and kicking him.
The jury was shown how the ground's CCTV homed in on the rumpus, and how yellow-coated stewards tried to shield Mr Priaulx from attack before leading him away.
Mr Priaulx, 27, said he wore his Leeds shirt under his jacket to avoid provoking a reaction.
But he told the jury: "As soon as Leeds scored I got carried away and jumped up. That's when trouble started. It was stupidity, I got carried away."
Steward team leader Andrew Pyne said he and his colleagues were on the lookout for people wearing Leeds shirts to turn them away for their own safety. But Mr Priaulx got in and when he was attacked "it was one Leeds fan versus Bristol City".
After Mr Pyne and his colleagues got Mr Priaulx out of the stand the Leeds fan was "very grateful for us helping him out", said Mr Pyne.
"He was very shaken. He apologised for being there. He said it was the only way he could get a ticket."
Mr Naish, Moore and Grey told the jury they were simply trying to help get Mr Priaulx out of the home stand.
Stitt declined to give evidence.