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Claw handed Arsenal fan lobbed missiles at Spurs supporters

PUBLISHED: 17:02 21 April 2011

Emirates Stadium

Emirates Stadium

Archant

A drunken Arsenal fan who lobbed missiles into a crowd of Spurs supporters including families following a derby defeat has been banned from matches for three years.

Michael Dignan, 44, of Hartham Road, Holloway, first hurled a golf ball then a glass bottle at the rival fans when his team lost 3-2 at home, after Tottenham’s surprise comeback from 2-0 down at half-time.

At Blackfriars Crown Court, Judge David Martineau said he deserved to go to jail for six months but he said he could suspend the sentence for two years, and ordered him to do 120 hours’ unpaid work. He also imposed a three-year football banning order prohibiting him from attending Arsenal matches or going within a kilometre of Emirates when a game is on.

Dignan admitted affray and having an offensive weapon. He denied going equipped and was cleared after prosecutors offered no evidence.

Bitter Dignan targeted the triumphant crowd outside the Emirates Stadium as they were being escorted by police to the Tube station.

As rival fans filed past, he claimed some were making “gestures across their throats, indicating violence”, said Emma Jones, prosecuting.

“He accepts he lost his temper after being goaded.

“He was under the influence of alcohol at the time and he accepts throwing objects.”

Regardless of the presence of families and children, he threw a golf ball and a bottle into the crowd, Blackfriars Crown Court was told.

No one came forward to report being injured but Dignan was arrested at the scene after police witnessed the outburst.

While on bail on December 22, he was caught in the street near his home with an array of suspicious tools including a Stanley knife, a screw driver, and a sharpened wooden handle.

He was initially arrested for going equipped for theft but prosecutors accepted his guilty plea to having an offensive weapon and the charge was dropped.

The court was told Dignan was a “genuine” fan with no history of football violence.

He has suffered a number of personal tragedies including his father being kicked to death when he was about the same age as Dignan is now.

As a teenager the defendant was also the victim of a knife attack which left him with a “claw hand”.

In 2004 he lost both his job and his girlfriend and had a breakdown.

He claims he has not touched alcohol since the football incident.


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