'Drunk' fan was stroke victim
A FOOTBALL fan arrested during a Bristol Rovers match for being drunk has been found not guilty – after a doctor said police had mistaken his stroke symptoms for intoxication.
Tranmere Rovers supporter Steven Renton, pictured, was removed from the Memorial Stadium half an hour into the match in March and missed his train back to Liverpool as a result of his arrest.
But he has cleared his name after a doctor's note confirmed he suffered a stroke two years ago and can look drunk as a result.
The 47-year-old was charged with being drunk in a sports ground during a sporting event after he pointed out another incident to officers.
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The policemen told Bristol Magistrates' Court during a two-day trial, split over two months, that Mr Renton stank of alcohol, was slurring his speech and struggling to control himself.
Prosecutor Kevin Withey said Mr Renton had drunk six cans of Carling lager and was seen to be unable to control himself and therefore arrested.
But John Quinn, defending, presented the court with a doctor's letter confirming Mr Renton had suffered a stroke on June 11, 2008, which had left him with slurred speech and unsteady on his feet.
He said there was a disturbance among the away fans as a result of two men "arguing over a girl".
Mr Renton, from Birkenhead, had been nearby and the police noticed his alleged drunkenness when they spoke to him.
Yet he was not deemed drunk enough to be held overnight in a cell.
Presiding magistrate Robert Jennings took time to state he found the police officers' testimony credible and they had grounds to believe Mr Renton was drunk.
Mr Jennings said: "There is no doubt you stank of alcohol. But if you had a drink now in this room you would smell.
"In that football ground these police officers genuinely felt you were drunk.
"But we have the benefit of your medical report."
Mr Jennings then said the three magistrates had unanimously agreed Mr Renton was not guilty of the offence.
Mr Renton said outside court: "It's a big weight off my shoulders. I could have faced a football banning order if found guilty, and I've never been in trouble with the police before."