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Flare fan's five-year game ban

A Derry City fan who took a flare into a cup final has been banned from football matches in Northern Ireland for five years.

The ban imposed on William Thomas Joseph Diver is believed to be the first of its kind since new powers were given to judges.

Diver (36), of Inveroe Gardens, Londonderry, was also given a suspended five-month jail sentence.

He was convicted of possessing fireworks at the Oval Stadium in east Belfast on May 12.

Diver was at the ground for the Setanta Cup final between Derry City and Crusaders.

The offence he was charged with under the Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 related to having a Thermobaric Canister at a regulated football match.

Belfast Magistrates' Court heard that he was searched and arrested at the ground before the device could be let off.

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His lawyer said Diver had brought it with him to create an atmosphere at the match.

There was never any intention to try to cause injuries, it was stressed. The court was told Diver didn't get to see the final, which Crusaders won after a penalty shoot-out.

Passing sentence, District Judge Rosie Watters imposed a football banning order under the 2011 Act. It prohibits Diver from attending any regulated matches in Northern Ireland until October 2017.

PSNI Superintendent Nigel Goddard welcomed Diver’s ban for having what he described as “two grenade type devices”.

“Sporting events which aim to attract families and a diverse age range of spectators, want to create a safe environment for fans to enjoy the sport and share in their team or athlete’s achievements.”

Diver’s five-month jail term was suspended for two years.

He has instructed his lawyers to appeal against the suspended sentence.

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