Yob fan allowed to go to matches

A CONVICTED football hooligan has escaped being banned from matches after telling magistrates that the game he had caused trouble at was his first and last time on the terraces.

A CONVICTED football hooligan was handed a red card banning him from football matches for two years' only for magistrates to disallow their own decision in injury time after the teenager told them he did not want to go to another game.

The bizarre change of tactic was played out at South East Suffolk Magistrate's Court after 19-year-old Colchester fan Joel Argent pleaded guilty to disorderly behaviour at the derby game at Portman Road on January 20.

Ipswich won the game 3-2 but the day was marred by allegations that around 20 Colchester fans bought tickets in a home stand and abused spectators with foul language and aggressive behaviour.

Magistrates heard that Argent was one of a group of away supporters who got into the Greene King stand at Ipswich's stadium.

Sarah-Jane Atkins, prosecuting, said Argent, of Hawthorn Avenue, Colchester, swore and struggled with stewards when asked to leave his seat.

She said: “A police officer witnessed the defendant struggling to get his arms free and swearing at them repeatedly.

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“An officer took hold of him and escorted him from the ground.

“He continued to swear at the officer and protest his innocence.

“This had the potential to escalate given the number of persons in the vicinity at the time.”

Argent pleaded guilty to disorderly behaviour.

Ms Atkins told the court that police had asked for Argent to be hit with a football banning order should he be convicted.

She said he was known to police and had a previous conviction for possession of an offensive weapon dating back to 2005.

Argent told the court the banning order “did not bother him”.

“It was the first game I have been to and I'm never going again,” he said.

Despite this magistrates opted to impose a two-year ban from games played at the grounds of both Ipswich Town and Colchester United.

However they made a u-turn and scrapped the ban altogether after the court clerk told them the minimum football banning order they could impose was three years' in length.

Chairman of the magistrates' Peter McGrath said: “We are not going to make a football banning order as this was the only game you have ever been to so we are taking it on that basis.”

Argent was fined £200 for disorderly behaviour and was ordered to pay costs of £60.

Do you think the u-turn was justified? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Derby game infiltration:

Ipswich fan Sam Durham wrote to Ipswich Town complaining after a group of around 20 U's fans bought tickets in the Greene King Lower stand and allegedly abused spectators with foul language and aggressive behaviour.

He said a four-year-old girl was reduced to tears after her dad was allegedly verbally abused when he asked one United supporter to sit down and behave.

Mr Durham said in his letter: “The amount of abuse and insults we received was beyond a joke.

“If this is to continue, myself and my family will just refuse to go.

“It's not the first time it's happened but this is by far the worst case.”

Another Ipswich supporter, who also sat in the Greene King Lower stand said a small scuffle broke out at the end of the game.

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