When Pompey fan Tim Hanks saw a group of people shouting at a young man after an FA Cup match at Fratton Park last year, he asked them to stop. For his trouble, he was then subjected to a vicious, unprovoked attack by rival Birmingham supporters.
The beating Mr Hanks took was so bad that he was knocked unconscious. Punches and kicks left him with severe cuts to his head and bruises all over his body. The photograph of Mr Hanks that appears on today’s front page shows the state he was in.
The thugs who did that to him then jumped into a van and drove off. But a member of the public had captured footage on a mobile phone video camera and two men identified as a result were arrested and appeared before the courts on a charge of wounding with intent.
Surely Philip Bancroft and Adam Daly, who both pleaded guilty, would be punished severely?
No. Instead they were handed 12-month suspended sentences and six-year football banning orders. So lenient was the verdict of the judge that the Crown Prosecution Service has said it is considering appealing.
We hope the CPS succeeds, because the sentence does not fit the crime. These two men deserved to go to prison and to remain there for some length of time. It’s no wonder that Mr Hanks told us he is ‘horrified’ by the judge’s decision. As he says: ‘What kind of a message does it send out, when people can do something like this and not go to prison?’
And what of the police officers in the case? Detective Constable Rachael Hannam received a Commander’s Certificate of Congratulations for ‘relentless dedication’ to securing a conviction and for the support she gave to Mr Hanks. How must she and her colleagues feel now?
We accept judges have to operate within sentencing guidelines. But Bancroft and Daly deserved to lose their liberty. Full stop.
Mr Hanks has been left with permanent damage to his short-term memory and has found it difficult to be in large crowds. But Bancroft and Daly still have their freedom. That is just plain wrong.