A group of men who intimidated rival football fans and attacked a Chester city centre pub following a derby match have been convicted of affray.
Five of the six men have been jailed after an incident outside the Shropshire Arms on Northgate Street. The disturbance happened following the match between Chester FC and Tranmere Rovers on 3 March 2017.
Joshua Doyle, 20, John Griffiths, 31, James Walsh, 29, David Ross, 44, Andrew Harrison, 30 and Jack Lynch, 23, were all arrested in August by Cheshire Police following a series of dawn raids across the Wirral. They were subsequently charged with the offence.
On appearing at Chester Crown Court on Wednesday 11 October five of the men pleaded guilty to the charges. The sixth defendant (Jack Lynch) pleaded not guilty, but was found guilty on Wednesday 25 April following a one day trial.
Yesterday, Monday 4 June the group again appeared at Chester Crown Court where the judge jailed the men and handed out football banning orders (FBOs).
Ross was jailed for 18 months and given an 10-year FBO, Griffiths was jailed for 14 months and given a six-year FBO, Walsh was jailed for nine months and given a six year FBO, Harrison was jailed for nine months and given a six-year FBO, Lynch was jailed for 23 weeks and given a six-year FBO and Doyle was given a nine month jail term, suspended for 18 months and a five year FBO.
Detective Constable Peta Ticer said: “These men came to Chester with the intent of causing disruption in the city – this affected not only those who live and work in the area but also for visitors who were enjoying a night out. None of them attended the match itself; instead they visited to intimidate rival football fans.
“In the hours after the game the group was captured on CCTV footage threatening and intimidating rival fans who were locked inside the Shropshire Arms. They were also seen punching the windows and kicking the front door of the pub, before throwing ashtrays and chairs at the premises.
“They thought it was acceptable to threaten and intimidate innocent members of the public and clearly believed that they were above the law.
“Thankfully, as a result of a thorough investigation, and with support from our colleagues at Merseyside Police who helped us to identify the culprits, they are now facing the consequences of their actions.”
Superintendent Luke McDonnell said: “While the majority of football fans who visited Chester last season were well behaved and had an enjoyable time, unfortunately there were a small number who were intent on committing crime and disrupting the lives of those who live, work and visit the city centre.
“The case is the culmination of a five-month investigation and I would like to thank all of the officers who were involved. I would specifically like to acknowledge the work of our colleagues at Merseyside police - without their support today’s convictions would not have been possible.
“The sentences come just weeks after a group of Chester and Wrexham fans were sentenced for a similar offence also in the city centre. This is not the sort of behaviour anyone wants to see in Chester and this should serve as a warning that those who choose to come into the city, cause disruption and commit an offence will be identified, located and brought to justice, no matter where they live.”
Superintendent Dave Charnock from Merseyside Police said: “This is a great example of two police forces working together. Our specially-trained football spotters were able to assist Cheshire officers in identifying the offenders responsible for the large scale disorder in Chester city centre, who were all Tranmere Rovers fans.
“Police forces will not tolerate this type of behaviour and we will do everything within our powers to work alongside colleagues in other forces to ensure that the people responsible are found and brought to justice.”