Following his acquittal today (26/5/15) on an Offensive Behaviour charge.

we hear from one young man about what happened to him as a result of this legislation.

I have been a Hamilton Accies fan since their return to Hamilton in 2004. On Wednesday 24/09/14 I attended the Accies V Motherwell match.  I sit in section A the closest section to the away support which is known as the “singing section”.  The aforementioned match was portrayed as the shame game between the two clubs due to numerous arrests during after the match;  myself included as I was arrested during the game.

I was charged at Hamilton police office for a contravention of Section 1 of The Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012. I was alleged to have shouted and gesticulated in a manner which was likely to cause public disorder at a regulated football match.

Here and now is my story:

I entered the ground at 7:48, 3 mins after kick off, and took up my usual seat in section A.  I was then subjected to numerous coins,lighters etc being thrown from the Motherwell support (although I stress both sides were doing this). I did not partake in this and subsequently approached a police officer and asked about the safety of the game.  I quote his words “I’m not interested”.   I returned to my position again but returned to the same police officer again when a flare which was lit by the Motherwell support was thrown into the home end landing close to my location (the unlit part of the flare).  I was again told “I’m not interested go away!”  I did so, returning again to my position. I approached him again a 3rd time after a coin landed 4-5 ft away from me.   This time I was forcibly pushed away and told again “I’m not interested go away”.

I came back to my seat for a 3rd time and watched the game and taking part in the usual singing etc that takes place at a football match.

I went to the toilet before the end of the first half and whilst watching the game from the stairwell I felt two hands on my back and at this point I realised I was being ejected from the stadium.  I had no idea why.

Outside the stadium I was held by two police officers and a short time later a police van arrived. I was taken to Hamilton police office where I was processed and charged under Section 1 the Offensive Behaviour Act. I appeared at court the following day and was bailed with the conditions not to attend SFA regulated matches.

On the 22/4/2015 my full trial took place. I gave evidence alongside 3 police witnesses and have detailed below their accounts along with inconsistencies between them.

Cop 1 gave the following evidence

  •  I never approached him at any point. He claimed he approached me to politely ask me to calm down.  I swear, call him names and make implied threats against the Motherwell fans eg ‘if you don’t do something we will.’
  • He was completely unaware of any flares.
  • I was ‘fended’ away 3 times as I was invading his personal space. (So, I don’t move away, how long would this have taken (2-3 minutes, 5 minutes tops)and 2 Cops stood together could easily have removed me down the stairs.)
  • I finally return to my seat.
  • I am watched from trackside despite the 12ft high wall…they see me clearly??
  • Normal procedure is for arrests to be made after camera evidence is utilised. (handheld or CCTV).
  • No camera evidence exists – west stand CCTV is focused on Motherwell fans……(strange given Police requirement to disperse Accies fans)
  • I go to the toilet just before half time.
  • I was charged and cautioned outside the ground.
  • There was no discussion in the van.

 

Cop 2

  •  He heard what I said, as he is stood right next to Cop 1 (though the words are slightly different).
  • He suggests I don’t move away – thinks there are 3 fend offs but doesn’t seem certain. (How long would that all have taken – maybe 2-3 minutes, 5 minutes to ps?In a short space of time a Cop would be really frustrated and would take action.)
  • He is fully aware of flare (s) and even notices it landing on the pitch…………Cop 1 stood beside doesn’t notice??
  • I finally return to my seat.
  • I am watched from trackside despite the 12ft high wall…they see me clearly??
  • He doesn’t see me taken out of the ground and has no involvement in the arrest.

 

Cop 3

  • He sees me approach Cop 1  3 times but seems to suggest I go away and come back contradicting Cops 1 and 2 but confirming my version of events.
  • He watches me after Cops 1 and 2 return trackside and who have said I return to my seat but despite the 12ft wall…he sees me clearly??
  • He sees the flare in the Motherwell end, he hears the radio chatter about it. He doesnt see it land on the pitch despite being constantly trackside.
  • He is involved in me being removed from the ground close to half time.
  • He states I am cautioned and charged in the public order vehicle (with internal Perspex box though the perspex causes no communication issues. This contradicts Cop 1 who flat out denies speaking to me inside the vehicle.)

My defence witnesses did not give evidence on this day as the court ran out of time and a part heard trial was arranged for the 26/5/2015.

My two defence witnesses gave evidence and gave their accounts of the evening supporting my version that I didn’t do what the police have alleged.

At approximately 13:11 today (26/5) I was found Not Guilty of the aforementioned charge as the sheriff concluded that there was reasonable doubt that I was the person involved.

I’m glad and relieved justice has been done and that I have proved my innocence.

I would like to thank my family & friends  for standing by me throughout this time and supporting me. I would like to thank FAC (who aren’t just an organisation for Celtic fans but for all) for all their advice and support throughout this ordeal.

I’m glad the correct and just result has been concluded and hope that no one has the same feelings of injustice that I have. I’ve had to miss the greatest run in my clubs history; a chance to see 4-0  & 5-0 v ironically our great rivals Motherwell; a 1-0 victory at Celtic park our first in 75 years ( can feel the Celtic support on my back ha!) and the chance to say goodbye to a man who served us for over 10 years as player and manager and guided us through the greatest time in our history, Alex Neil.

I urge and implore anyone that hasn’t yet signed the petition regarding this disgusting and ludicrous act to do it now.  It demonises all football fans for simply being that – fans of the game we all love !

The fight starts now to repeal this horrible act.

Thanks for reading #killthebill

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