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Ipswich fan punched off-duty policeman at Norwich game

PUBLISHED: 08:43 22 February 2011 | UPDATED: 13:27 22 February 2011

npower Championship
Norwich City Football Club v Ipswich Town at Carrow Road.
2010-2011 season
Ipswich fan John Gardner being removed by police

Picture: James Bass

npower Championship Norwich City Football Club v Ipswich Town at Carrow Road. 2010-2011 season Ipswich fan John Gardner being removed by police Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2010

A former Ipswich Town steward has been fined £2,000 and banned from football matches for three years after assaulting an off-duty policeman during the East Anglian derby at Carrow Road last November.

John Gardner, 48, from First Avenue, Sudbury, was captured on CCTV punching Mark Snoxell and resisting PC Gemma Womack, who were trying to remove him from the away section of the ground,just after kick-off between Norwich and Ipswich on November 28 last year.

Mr Snoxell, who is an Ipswich fan, had decided to help PC Womack who had gone into the crowd following reports of two men fighting. He suffered two chipped front teeth and PC Womack suffered bruising to her leg.

Gardner, who is a grandfather and a former Town steward, pleaded guilty to resisting a constable in the execution of her duty and common assault when he appeared before Norwich Magistrates yesterday.

He was fined £2,000 plus a £15 victim surcharge and also ordered to pay £200 compensation to PC Snoxell and £100 compensation to PC Womack. He was also banned from football matches for three years and told to pay £80 costs.

Prosecuting, Richard White said: “The defendant was fighting with someone else in the crowd. PC Womack got behind the defendant as if to take him out.

“The defendant was refusing to walk down the stairs and she felt a blow to the side of her face and her leg was bruised as he resisted. It was a volatile situation. PC Womack’s hat had been knocked off and she was knocked off balance. PC Snoxell approached to offer assistance and took hold of the defendant, telling him he was a policeman. But the defendant swore at him and punched him in the mouth.”

Gardner was arrested and said in interview he had punched PC Snoxell because he feared he was about to be assaulted. In mitigation, Anne Gray said her client did not hear PC Snoxell identify himself as a policeman.

She said: “As far as he was concerned, a man in the crowd grabbed his arm and he reacted. The fight had started because a man behind the defendant had picked an argument with him.

“His initial resistance to the police was because this other man had punched him from behind, and he felt the fight was not his fault.

“He’s very remorseful and has never been in court before.”

The court was told that Gardner was a lifelong Ipswich fan who was general manager of a plastics company where he had worked for 33 years.

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