Belfast Telegraph

Celtic supporters kicked off in eatery after being told they were too drunk to be served

Pair lucky to avoid criminal record after admitting to verbally abusing staff and cops, writes Roy Cassidy

Two Celtic fans from Northern Ireland lost the plot on their way home from a Scottish Premiership match after they were refused alcohol at the airport because they were so drunk.

Government worker Martin Gilmore and his friend Joanne McReynolds became enraged after they were turned down at Frankie and Benny's in Glasgow Airport in October.

Gilmore (35) and McReynolds (47) were returning after having been to Fir Park to watch their beloved team beat Motherwell 1-0.

The pair were in separate groups but bumped in to each other and decided to go for dinner before their flight.

Gilmore, from Deramore Avenue in Ballymena, and McReynolds, from Craigadick Park in Maghera, were due to fly from Glasgow to Dublin, before heading home.

But when they entered Frankie and Benny's they were told they were too intoxicated to be served, after which Gilmore kicked off.

The details emerged yesterday when Gilmore, McReynolds and pal Uma Morgan appeared in the dock at Paisley Sheriff Court over the events of October 17 last year.

They had been charged with "engaging in behaviour likely to incite disorder" while on a journey from a regulated football match by "shouting, swearing, uttering abusive and threatening remarks towards members of staff and police officers, struggling violently with police officers and lashing out arms and legs towards police officers".

But they struck a deal with prosecutors that saw Gilmore and McReynolds pleading guilty to an amended charge of breach of the peace, and Morgan being cleared of all wrongdoing.

The pair admitted shouting and swearing, making abusive remarks to staff and police and behaving in a disorderly manner, causing a breach of the peace. The court heard how the pair refused to calm down after being denied service and continued to abuse workers.

When police arrived at the restaurant, they turned their attention to the officers and were taken in to custody.

A prosecuting solicitor told Sheriff David Pender he accepted the amended charge as he was satisfied it was "not a football-related incident".

Defence solicitor Tony Callahan, representing McReynolds, said she had been in Glasgow for the weekend to celebrate her sister turning 50. He explained: "She had gone to a match. She had also gone shopping, gone for lunch and had something to drink.

"She became perhaps more animated after Mr Gilmore was arrested. She accepts she became overly emotional. She had a diluted role in this incident. She's the author of her own misfortune."

He said the mother-of-two, who has a 15-year-old daughter and a 20-year-old son at university, worked for a large quarry company, earning £1,700 per month, and cared for her mother, who has dementia, and her father, who is in remission from cancer.

The solicitor added it was unclear whether she would be able to keep her job as she may be subject to disciplinary proceedings after conviction.

Stephen Dryden, for Gilmore, said his client had spent 12 years working for the Civil Service as a technological adviser to the Department of Justice and the Social Security Service.

The lawyer explained: "He has security clearance through the Northern Ireland Office. That clearance will now be reviewed. That may have an impact on his employment.

"He is extremely apologetic for his behaviour, and was extremely anxious and concerned about this case."

He added Gilmore believed he had engaged in "banter" with staff but accepted it went too far.

The solicitor said his client raised money for charity, organising a dance for Marie Curie Cancer Care that recently pulled in £3,500, and cared for his grandmother, who has cancer.

Both solicitors asked Sheriff Pender to consider the "unusual step" of granting an absolute discharge as Gilmore and McReynolds were first-time offenders who may lose their jobs.

They added their clients had spent considerable amounts of money flying to Scotland and staying overnight for court appearances in which the case did not conclude.

Sheriff Pender spared them a conviction and granted them an absolute discharge, meaning they were found guilty but have no criminal record.

Gilmore beamed as he left the dock while McReynolds cried and celebrated with family who had come to court to show their support.

Belfast Telegraph


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