Belfast Telegraph

Portadown thugs banned from games after attack on Newry fan

Both defendants were handed 30-month prison sentences, suspended for two years, and ordered to pay £750 compensation following a hearing at Newry Magistrates' Court (stock photo)
Both defendants were handed 30-month prison sentences, suspended for two years, and ordered to pay £750 compensation following a hearing at Newry Magistrates' Court (stock photo)

By Donal McMahon

Two Portadown FC supporters have been banned from matches for attacking a Newry City fan.

Kyle Russell (24), from Lacehill Park in the Co Armagh town, was given a five-year ban and Matthew Lewis, of Ulsterville Park, a three-year ban.

Both defendants were handed 30-month prison sentences, suspended for two years, and ordered to pay £750 compensation following a hearing at Newry Magistrates' Court. CCTV caught the pair kicking and stamping on a Newry City fan in a brawl at the Irish League club's Showgrounds in 2018 during a Bluefin Sport Championship game that ended in a 0-0 draw.

Thousands of pounds worth of damage was caused to cars outside the ground as rioting fans took to the roof of a building on the Greenbank Industrial Estate adjacent to the sponsors' lounge.

Bank employee Lewis, quality inspector Russell and Gary Connolly (52), of Gilford Road in Portadown, admitted affray.

Lewis and Russell also pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm against the Newry City fan.

Russell received a caution for similar behaviour in 2015 during a Portadown v Coleraine match, for which he was ordered to pay a £85 fine.

Judge Gordon Kerr alluded to a victim impact statement in which the man who was attacked said he could no longer attend matches or follow a team he loved because he was frightened of being beaten up.

CCTV captured both Lewis and Russell attacking the victim, with Lewis "kicking out" and Russell "stamping" on the man.

The judge saw the use of feet as an aggravating factor.

The victim suffered bruising to his face, chest and back.

Connolly, who was seen as being less involved in the attack, was sentenced to 12 months' prison, suspended for two years. He was not banned from attending matches.

PSNI Chief Inspector Peter Brannigan welcomed the punishment for Russell and Lewis.

"I believe this will send a clear message to fans that any reckless, disorderly or criminal behaviour will not be tolerated and that we, as a police service, will actively seek banning orders for anyone brought before the courts," he said.

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