Ex-Ukip candidate jailed after punching police horse before football match
A Portsmouth football fan has been jailed after punching a police horse during ‘ugly scenes’ before a cup match against rival team Southampton.
Former Ukip candidate Derek Jennings, 53, was also handed a six-year football banning order after being part of a group ‘intent on violence’ ahead of the event at Fratton Park on September 24 last year.
The father-of-two had joined a ‘baying mob’ of Portsmouth fans who flocked to the streets to await the arrival of 2,000 away fans, Simon Jones, prosecuting, told Portsmouth Crown Court.
Six hundred police officers had been deployed to the match which was said to be representative of ‘one of the most intense rivalries in English football’.
The court was shown footage of hundreds of fans from both sides confronting each other, with Mr Jones claiming: ‘These are ugly scenes, these are groups intent on violence.’
Jennings, who had been drinking for nearly four hours, was stopped by officers two hours before kick-off and ordered to leave the area under dispersal powers.
He returned and was captured on video yelling abuse at Southampton fans before punching the police horse.
Describing the incident, Mr Jones claimed: ‘Mr Jennings is heard shouting ‘Southampton c***’. He was told by the officer to move back, it is after that with clenched fist he swung a punch hitting the horse in the nose and mouth.
‘The horse shied away, Mr Jennings then swings out on two further occasions with the intention of punching the horse again, it is then he is pursued by the police and arrested.’
The horse, named Luna, was not injured, police confirmed.
Jennings was sentenced to 20 months in prison by Judge William Ashworth after pleading guilty to violent disorder.
The defendant said: ‘I can’t believe that I swung at a horse and been so stupid.’
Mr Jones added: ‘He said his behaviour was disgraceful and he was sorry.’
The former Ukip candidate had 14 previous convictions for 21 offences including an offence of affray in 1998 for which he was jailed for 18 months and given a five-year football banning order, the court heard.
Judge Ashworth told the defendant: ‘You involved yourself in wide-scale violent disorder before a football game, there is only one appropriate punishment and that is immediate custody.’
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