Pitch invasion fan hit steward

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A Wigan Athletic fan and soldier who assaulted a steward after invading the pitch when his team scored a last-gasp winner has appeared in court.

Paratrooper Barry Cox was one of several triumphant Latics supporters who ran onto the pitch after their team scored in injury time against Walsall at the Banks’s Stadium on February 20.

Prosecutor Kulbir Paul told Walsall magistrates Cox was approached by steward Dave Garner who tried to usher him back into the stands. Cox, of the 3rd Battalion, Parachute Regiment, then elbowed Mr Garner in the face who escaped with only slight reddening.

After hearing about the 29-year-old’s military career – which includes four years in the Royal Navy – magistrates decided to impose a conditional discharge.

His Lieutenant, Henry Mitchell, said Cox had always maintained high standards and has both Afghanistan and Iraq campaign medals.

He added Cox could be posted around the world at very short notice. Lt Mitchell said: “He is an intelligent soldier who has shown full remorse and understands the severity of the issue. He understands his actions can bring the army into disrepute and the effect this could have on his career.”

Cox admitted entering the pitch and common assault. Defending, Nayan Patel said Cox had not been sure who Mr Garner was when he approached and “caught” him.

Cox, of More Street, Newtown, was given a two-year conditional discharge and ordered to pay £150 compensation to Mr Garner, £135 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.