A POMPEY fan who ‘tried to pull the wool over the eyes’ of a jury was found guilty for his part in terrifying opposing football fans – and now faces the prospect of jail.
Peter Hawkins, 48, failed in his attempt to convince jurors at Portsmouth Crown Court he was merely an innocent bystander in violent disorder as the 12 jurors returned a unanimous guilty verdict.
The court heard how mob rule took control when up to 150 Pompey fans rounded on rivals from Oldham outside Fratton Park following a 2-1 defeat in September last year.
It followed ugly scenes inside the ground when the away side went 2-0 up in the 88th minute –resulting in a section of home fans storming onto the pitch to confront their counterparts. Missiles lobbed from Pompey fans saw police diving for cover.
Hawkins denied violent disorder despite admitting throwing a missile at opposing fans outside Fratton Park while in a pack of Pompey fans who laid in wait where away fans were due to leave the stadium.
The defendant admitted making a rude gesture and joining in a chant of ‘let them out’ during the ugly scenes.
As word got out that away fans were being moved to another side of the ground to exit for their own safety – an ‘exceptional move’ that had not been seen for 10 years – Hawkins, along with dozens of others, rushed towards the Frogmore Road exit where they were expected to come out.
Prosecutor Simon Jones, in summing up, let rip at Hawkins and poured cold water over his claims he had no part in the depraved scenes.
‘The defendant chose to be part of the hostile and aggressive behaviour after going to the match with his 12-year-old son and his friend,’ Mr Jones said. ‘He stood there for five minutes with the baying mob, which is a long time to be there for.
‘He is pointing aggressively, makes an inappropriate gesture and says he only threw tin foil. But he has been exposed to be a liar after CCTV showed him throwing two missiles.’
Mr Jones, who suggested it was more likely coins were lobbed at rival fans, added to the jury: ‘It is nonsense and he is insulting your intelligence. He is trying to pull the wool over your eyes. He is lying to you.’
But in defence, Paul Jones, said Hawkins had never been involved in football hooliganism in his 35 years of watching Pompey.
The barrister also added that throwing tin foil does not amount to violent disorder. ‘The crown’s case hangs on what was thrown but there is no evidence what he threw was capable of causing injury,’ he said. ‘It would be speculation to accept it was a coin.’
Mr Jones added: ‘If he is guilty of encouraging others then a lot of other people are guilty.’
But the jury saw things differently.
Hawkins, of Lidsey Road, Chichester, will now be sentenced along with four other men who admitted violent disorder for similar offences on November 15. He was granted unconditional bail.
Judge Timothy Mousley QC, who recently sent eight Pompey fans to prison for violent disorder against Plymouth rivals last year, called for an all options pre-sentence report with custody an option.