A violent thug who punched a police horse before a match between Portsmouth and Southampton football clubs has been jailed for 20 months.
Derek Jennings, aged 53 years, of Laburnum Grove, Portsmouth, was charged with violent disorder, contrary to Section 2(1) and (5) of the Public Order Act 1986.
Jennings pleaded guilty to the offences at an earlier hearing.
On Friday 31st July, Portsmouth Crown Court was told how Jennings repeatedly punched police horse Luna in the lead up to the Carabao Cup match between Portsmouth Football Club and Southampton Football Club on 24th September last year.
During the build-up to the game, one of the police officers who was in charge of policing the event noticed that Jennings was becoming aggressive towards police officers and rival Southampton fans.
A mounted officer, who was riding police horse Luna, headed towards Jennings. But as the horse approached him, the thug clenched his fist and punched the police horse in her nose and mouth.
Police horse Luna shied away from her attacker, but Jennings swung out at her twice more before he turned and tried to run away.
The court heard how Jennings ran towards a group of public order officers who told him to stop. Police horse Luna was also following the rowdy thug.
It was not long before officers managed to grab hold of Jennings and he was arrested and taken back to a local police station.
Jennings was today handed a 20-month sentence and was given a six-year football banning order.
Speaking after the hearing, DCI John McGonigle said:
“Sadly, as we anticipated, there was a minority of people who were intent on ruining this much-anticipated derby for everyone else and Jennings was one of those.
“This is why we ensured there was a significant policing operation around this match, alongside careful planning with both clubs, so that we could act quickly and stop any disruption.
“For a grown man to act in this way was deplorable, especially against an animal, who was simply there to help protect people who wanted to enjoy the game and get home safely.
“We hope this sentence sends a clear message that we will not tolerate this type of behaviour or any disorder at any public event. Action will be taken and those responsible will be investigated.”
He added: “Fortunately, Luna was uninjured and was able to remain on duty, however, we made sure she received plenty of care and attention, plus a few extra treats.
“We’d like to thank the public for the outpouring of support we received for Luna, it was very much appreciated.”
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