Football thug is ordered to stay away from Coleraine games after clashes between fans
A soccer yob has been banned from attending Coleraine FC games for four years after pleading guilty to his latest act of football hooliganism.
At the town's magistrates' court yesterday, Aaron Fielding admitted a charge of disorderly behaviour which occurred when a mob of up to 50 Coleraine fans confronted Linfield supporters after a dramatic league game earlier this year.
Fielding (21), of Cromlech Park, Portstewart, was at the front of the gang spotted by police moving towards an exit at Coleraine Showgrounds where Linfield fans were leaving from on February 20.
Coleraine had been beating Linfield 2-0, but dramatically lost 3-2, the winning goal coming just six minutes from the end.
Fielding had been set to contest his case at court yesterday, but he pleaded guilty at the last moment.
A prosecutor told the hearing that police were on duty at the match and at 4.55pm as the game ended they spotted around 40 to 50 Coleraine supporters approaching the Linfield exit.
This group of Coleraine fans was shouting abuse at Linfield supporters and at the head of the group was Fielding, who was "highly agitated, aggressive and hostile".
He was warned by police he would be arrested if he did not calm down, but he continued to shout abuse and ran towards Linfield fans in an "aggressive stance" with his arms out and fists clenched, which the prosecutor said provoked some Linfield supporters to run across the road towards him.
The prosecutor also told the court the defendant had previous football-related convictions.
Fielding's solicitor, Derwin Harvey, said his client was currently serving a community service order for a previous offence.
Mr Harvey asked the judge to consider suspending any prison term if his client accepted a banning order.
District Judge Liam McNally noted Fielding's record and said he was very close to receiving a custodial term.
The prosecutor said she was applying for a football banning order against the defendant, and explained that the minimum period for a ban was three years, the maximum was five, and that a previous, unrelated case at the court had seen a four-year ban handed out.
Judge McNally told Fielding: "You have a bad record, and it appears when you get to football matches you lose all sense."
He imposed a four-month jail term, suspended for two years, and banned Fielding from attending Coleraine FC games for four years.
As part of the football banning order, Fielding is not allowed to be within a mile of any ground when Coleraine is playing, and he is also banned from being within one mile of Coleraine Showgrounds from two hours before until two hours after any game.
The judge told Fielding: "It is time to bring this record to an end".
Police have been attempting to crack down on trouble surrounding a small element of fans at Coleraine games. The vast majority of supporters criticise the actions of the trouble-makers.
Recently, a member of a fans' group that calls itself the Coleraine Casual Army became the first person in Northern Ireland to be given a four-year football banning order after he was disorderly near the Coleraine Showgrounds on Boxing Day last year, when Coleraine took on rivals Ballymena United in a local derby game.
In April 2015, Aaron Fielding was given a one-year conditional discharge when he admitted a charge of disorderly behaviour in connection with an Irish League game between Coleraine and Ballymena.