A Leicester City fan was recently sentenced to four months in youth custody after pleading guilty to three counts of common assault. 19-year-old Cameron Toner had jumped advertising boards and lashed out at three Nottingham Forest players during their FA Cup tie with Leicester City at the City Ground on 6 February this year. He was also handed a 10-year football banning order (FBO).

While on the face of it, a four-month custodial sentence for a person with no previous convictions may appear excessive, when you consider the incident, it becomes clear why the District Judge felt there was no other option.

The match had already been deemed as ‘high-risk’ because the teams had not met since 2014 in an official capacity. Extra policing was part-funded by both clubs. The match was televised, watched by people over and above the 28,672 at the ground- including, no doubt, children.

Sentencing him, the District Judge said that nobody was entitled to enter the field of play apart from officials and footballers. Toner had entered their place of work with the ‘malevolence of a bad loser’ and the attack was ‘cowardly’. He added that Toner’s actions could have easily sparked public disorder. Toner’s solicitor told the court he was not the ‘hooligan’ he was portrayed as.

With this sentence and lengthy FBO, the courts have sent a very strong message- this level of disorder will not be tolerated. Often for a first offence, a 3-year FBO (the minimum) is imposed. To impose a 10-year FBO at the first time of asking shows how seriously the incident was taken.

Tony Freitas from our Criminal Defence team is vastly experienced in dealing with cases where FBOs are applied for. If you find yourself in a similar position, he can provide specialist advice on the charges, the procedure and the FBO sought. He has appeared at several courts across the UK in similar high-profile cases. Further, he is able to advise on, and provide representation for, applications to terminate FBOs early at the two-thirds stage.

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