Beds, Herts & Bucks

Luton Town fans in court for football violence trial

Three men have gone on trial at Luton Crown Court accused of taking part in violence at a football match between Luton Town and York City in May 2010.

Jamie Sales, 26, of Russet Way, Dunstable, and Michael Howe, 44, of Dellfield, St Albans, deny affray inside the club's Kenilworth Road ground.

However Mr Howe has admitted a charge of affray outside the ground.

Gary Booth, 40, of Kinross Crescent, Luton denies affray outside the ground.

A fourth man, Scott Barker, 30, of Cutenhoe Road, Luton, was cleared of affray before the trial began when the prosecution offered no evidence against him.

The jury of nine men and three woman has been shown CCTV footage of Luton fans, whose club had lost the chance of promotion to the Football League, invading the pitch and hurling objects and abuse at the opposing fans and players.

Further crowd unrest outside the ground was also caught on camera, and showed people raiding a corner shop and throwing brooms, mops and other items at police.

'Aggressive atmosphere'

Prosecutor Claudette Elliott told the jury the match was played at Kenilworth Road on 3 May last year.

"It was a very important match to both sides. The winner would go through to the play-offs at Wembley and possible promotion," she said.

"This was a second leg match and Luton were losing 1-0 on aggregate at the start of the game.

"Unsurprisingly the atmosphere was aggressive and in the second half York City scored and the tension heightened and police feared a pitch invasion.

"Police and stewards formed lines to prevent the pitch being invaded but after the final whistle Luton supporters tried to get through the lines while York City supporters were celebrating on the pitch.

"Even experienced stewards and police officers admitted they were afraid by the situation."

She said Mr Howe claimed that inside the stadium he was just singing and dancing and Mr Sales said he was being pushed backwards and forwards in the crowd.

But Miss Elliott claimed the CCTV footage showed both men throwing items from the Luton end.

The trial continues.

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