Northern Ireland

Fan banned for taking flash-grenade to Belfast match

Image caption The fan brought a flare into the cup final at the Oval in Belfast

A Derry City FC fan who took a flash-type grenade into a cup final has been banned from football matches in Northern Ireland for five years.

William Thomas Joseph Diver, 36, of Inveroe Gardens, Londonderry, was also given a suspended five month jail term.

He was convicted of possessing fireworks at the Oval Stadium in east Belfast on 12 May.

Diver was at the ground for the Setanta Cup final between Derry City and Crusaders.

The offence he was charged with under the Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 related to having a thermobaric canister, which produces a bright flash when lit, at a regulated football match.

Belfast Magistrates Court heard that he was searched and arrested at the ground before the device could be let off.

His lawyer said Diver had brought it with him to create "an atmosphere" at the match.

There was "never any intention" to try to cause injuries, he said.

The court was told Diver did not get to see the final, which Crusaders won after a penalty shoot-out.

District Judge Rosie Watters suspended the five month jail term for two years.

It is the first football ban to be issued under the year old legislation in Northern Ireland.

PSNI Superintendent Nigel Goddard said the device was a type of grenade and welcomed the banning order.

"Sporting events which aim to attract families and a diverse age range of spectators, want to create a safe environment for fans to enjoy the sport and share in their team or athletes achievements.

"They are not a place for violence and violence should not be allowed to mar such occasions."