Smoke bomb fan escapes banning order

News story
News story

A FAN who set off a smoke bomb at a Wigan Athletic match after drinking “10 pints and some vodkas” has escaped a football banning order.

Leeds United supporter Joshua Guy Megson - who bought the device on the internet for £3 - was hit with a £400 fine.

But the bench at Wigan and Leigh Magistrates’ Court said the case did not satisfy the requirements for the order that prevents misbehaving fans from attending grounds for a minimum of three years.

The 18-year-old of West Street, Banbury, Oxfordshire, was arrested on April 5 at the DW Stadium in the first half of a Championship tie.

Paul Darnborough, prosecuting, said: “At police interview, Mr Megson told officers he had noticed a flare had been set off and he decided to set his smoke bomb off.

“He dropped it initially and a friend went to pick it up, but he took it off his friend.”

A police officer on duty at the North Stand saw Megson throw the smoke bomb towards the playing area.

Mr Darnborough, who told the bench he was also a Leeds United supporter “through birth rather than choice”, added that the defendant told police he had bought the device on the internet for £3.25.

He said: “He had drunk the equivalent of 10 pints and some vodkas before the game.”

Andrew Stock, defending, told the court that Megson had attended 20 to 25 games a year for more than a decade.

He said: “This behaviour is out of character for him. He did not think the item would cause anyone concern, a smoke bomb is a dramatic description of the device which was a few inches long.

“It emitted fairly whispy smoke, it was transient in nature. He decided to set it off for a bit of a laugh with his friends.

“He accepts that he has been stupid and foolish, he has shown remorse for his actions on a number of occasions. He is not someone who will repeat the mistakes of the past and I would say that a football banning order is not required.”

The bench was satisfied that Megson, who works full time for a removals company, did not pose a threat of repeat behaviour in the future.

The presiding magistrate said: “Anyone with an ounce of common sense would have seen the folly of throwing this smoke bomb at a football stadium. Such actions placed both the public and officers at risk.

“The consequences could have been extremely serious if things had gone wrong.”

Megson, who pleaded guilty to charges of possessing a smoke bomb and throwing a missile toward the playing area, was ordered to pay costs of £85 and a victim surcharge of £20, meaning his total costs was £505.

Fellow Leeds United fan Paul James King, 25, of Pawson Street, East Ardsley, received a three-year banning order and costs of £215 after pleading guilty at Wakefield Magistrates earlier this month to throwing a smoke grenade toward the playing area at the same game.