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Manchester United yobs avoid jail despite Jamie Carragher abuse

A protester who kicked a police officer in the testicles was among the latest Manchester United fans to be taken to court for their role in ‘crowd violence’ which led to the abandonment of a Premier League game. The officer felt ‘instantly ill’ after Jake Hayes kicked him, as police responded to ugly scenes outside Old Trafford.

Up to 2,000 fans lined the ground ahead of the proposed match between United and Liverpool, which was played behind closed doors in May last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. The match was later scrapped for security reasons after initially peaceful protests turned violent, with fans storming into the stadium and taking to the pitch twice.

Missiles, including bottles and cans, were launched towards police, and an officer was seriously injured in the face by a flying bottle during the crash. A total of 40 fans admitted violent unrest for their part in the large-scale disruption.

Brian Doherty, left, and Gary Buckley, right, were among five men who appeared at Manchester Crown Court who admitted violent disturbances at Old Trafford during a behind-closed-doors game against Liverpool in May 2021

Rudy Smethurst (centre), was among five men who admitted to violent ground disorder during anti-Glazier protests.  Each of the five defendants received suspended prison sentences and three-year football banning orders

Rudy Smethurst (centre), was among five men who admitted to violent ground disorder during anti-Glazier protests. Each of the five defendants received suspended prison sentences and three-year football banning orders

Manchester United fans first staged a protest outside the stadium, pictured, to complain about the continued ownership of the Glazier family

Manchester United fans first staged a protest outside the stadium, pictured, to complain about the continued ownership of the Glazier family

At the third sentencing hearing to be held at Manchester Crown Court, five other men were given suspended prison terms, the same sentence previously given to eight other men. “It’s wrong that the police and stewards had to deal with people like you who behaved like animals,” Judge Nicholas Dean KC, Manchester’s honorary recorder, told the five defendants.

“You should be ashamed of your behavior. In my opinion, you should never be allowed to attend a Manchester United game, it’s the club’s business in the end.

The judge praised police “restraint” in response to the “frightening” incident. “Protest is perfectly permitted, but what you got involved in was not a protest, it was mob violence,” the judge added.

“The Greater Manchester Police and stewards who were involved in the events of May 2 are to be commended.” Prosecutor David Lees recounted how an officer was “kicked in the testicles” by 21-year-old Hayes. “It took his breath away, making him feel instantly sick,” he said. The officer suffered from pain and bruises and had to be off work for “several days”.

There followed scuffles between demonstrators and police. CCTV footage showed Hayes pushing the officer, before he was pushed back and then delivered the kick.

Hayes was one of dozens of fans who arrived on the pitch after a disabled floor entry was forced. After being ejected from the stadium, Hayes launched up to 15 missiles towards the police.

Another protester in the dock was Brian Doherty, 56. He arrived on the field and filmed selfie videos of himself saying “we broke in”, “we are on the field f******” and “f*** the f* *****Glazers”.

Doherty also insulted Sky TV commentator and former Liverpool player Jamie Carragher, saying ‘don’t spit on United fans’ and calling him a ‘Scouse t***’. Mr Lees said the abuse referred to an incident when the former England defender was ‘in trouble for spitting on a Manchester United fan’.

Manchester United fans forced their way into Old Trafford during the behind closed doors game against Liverpool in May 2021

Manchester United fans forced their way into Old Trafford during the behind closed doors game against Liverpool in May 2021

Brian Doherty, pictured, arrived on the pitch and took selfie videos of himself saying 'we broke in', 'we f****** on the pitch' and 'f** * the f **** ** Glaziers

Brian Doherty, pictured, arrived on the pitch and took selfie videos of himself saying ‘we broke in’, ‘we f****** on the pitch’ and ‘f** * the f **** ** Glaziers

Mr Carragher had previously been suspended by Sky Sports after he was filmed spitting at the driver of a car, who mocked him for Liverpool’s recent loss to United. Doherty also climbed onto the roof of a generator building near the Munich tunnel and urinated towards the nearby train station.

Rudy Smethurst, 26, also entered the pitch and launched a flare towards Sky’s commentary team but missed. The rocket burned a tarp and damaged a seat.

Ryan Fox-Kettle, 24, threw a number of misfires at police and abused officers, spitting at one and trying to grab one of their hats. He was seen on CCTV on Sir Matt Busby Way in ‘discomfort’. Fox-Kettle later claimed that he was “hit” by police officers.

“The fact that you, Mr. Fox-Kettle, were on the wrong side of a stick is entirely your fault,” the judge said. Gary Buckley, 52, also on the dock, had taken his two teenage sons to the protest. He entered the field and shook the goal posts.

One of his sons had taken a football from the field and after he left Buckley told him “give us that ball for a minute, they won’t take it away from me”. He put a sticker on a CCTV camera in the ground and briefly jumped on the bonnet of a car as he and other protesters were driven away from Old Trafford.

“They saw their father behaving in an appalling way,” Judge said of Buckley. Defending, Neil Ronan said the “rude and aggressive” behavior of father-of-two Fox-Kettle was off the mark.

Fox-Kettle, a catering company manager, is ‘deeply ashamed’ of his actions and once attended United games with his mother in the disabled section before she became too ill to attend. Attending football matches is now a “distant enthusiasm” for him as he cares for two young children and his mother, Mr Ronan said.

For Smethurst, Emily Hassell said he was normally a “hard-working” gas engineer and was “taken by the moment”. “He made a complete error in judgment,” she said.

Ms Hassell, also representing father-of-two Hayes, said he ‘got carried away with the crowd’ after planning to protest peacefully. Salford Council worker Hayes turned himself in to police the day after the protest after seeing a picture of him circulating online.

Unemployed Doherty is ’embarrassed’ and ‘disappointed’ in himself and has quit drinking, his lawyer Damian Zelazowski has said. The attorney said Doherty plans to watch football at home in the future, “where he can, if he needs to, shout at the television.”

For Buckley, Betsy Hindle said he was a “family man” and a “hard worker” who started his own waste disposal business. Ms Hindle said Buckley, who had previously been taken to court for racially abusing a steward at a Wigan Athletic match in September last year, had become ‘unable to cope’ as a result of the breakdown of his marriage.

Fox Kettle, of Staffordshire; Smethurst, of Middleton; Buckley, of Wigan; Doherty, of , Whitefield; and Hayes, of Salford; all pleaded guilty to violent disorder.

Hayes also pleaded guilty to assault causing actual bodily harm, while Doherty also admitted to possessing cannabis.

Fox-Kettle was sentenced to 20 months in prison, suspended for two years. Smethurst and Doherty were both sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years.

Buckley was sentenced to 16 months in prison, suspended for two years. Hayes was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for two years.

Doherty and Buckley were also ordered to observe an eight-month curfew. Fox-Kettle, Smethurst and Hayes are required to perform unpaid work and rehab activity days.

All five received football restraining orders, barring them from attending games for three years.