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Magistrates reject banning order application against fan arrested at King's Lynn Town season opener against Southend United

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A football fan has been fined after admitting being drunk in The Walks stadium during a King’s Lynn Town match.

But Southend United supporter Adrian Coates avoided receiving a Football Banning Order after a court was “not convinced” that he had been involved in any violence on the day.

Coates had been at The Walks on August 21 to see Southend beat the Linnets 1-0 in the sides’ opening National League match of the season.

King's Lynn Magistrates' Court (49624384)
King's Lynn Magistrates' Court (49624384)

The 54-year-old said it had been his first day out in more than three years after suffering a broken neck.

He was back in Lynn on Thursday to face magistrates over his drunken behaviour during the day.

Prosecutor Ashley Petchey told the bench Coates had been arrested at 4.30pm after he’d twice been seen close to disorder between fans during the match. And his heavy drinking had started before kick-off.

Mr Petchey said: “[Police] officers attended the Lord Napier pub prior to the game and saw a man they later learned was Mr Coates. He appeared to be unsteady.

“He was seen to drink a number of pints outside, assumed to be alcohol.”

The court was told that 20 minutes into the match one of the officers saw Coates having an argument with another person near the segregation line of fans.

During the second half the sergeant was then sent to a disturbance in a bar area for home fans.

“Mr Coates was stumbling,” said Mr Petchey. “He was walked to the entrance of the stadium and asked for ID.

“He dropped a number of cards and tickets. He was unsteady on his feet and had to regain his balance. His eyes were glazed and he smelt of intoxicating liquor.”

Mr Petchey said Coates was arrested for being drunk in a sports ground – a criminal offence which covers the period from two hours before an event to one hour afterwards.

Because the defendant had been noted to be near two incidents of disorder, the Crown Prosecution Service also applied for a Football Banning Order.

It prevents a person from attending any stadia for a period of between three and five years and can be issued if there are reasonable grounds to believe it would prevent future violence or disorder.

Such orders can also include the requirement for subjects to surrender their passports ahead of international fixtures.

Coates, who was not represented at the hearing, admitted he was in a bad way after mixing alcohol with prescription drugs but said the order would be “a bit extreme”.

He added: “I don’t deny I had too much to drink. I’m on a heavy prescription for medication because I broke my neck in 2018. I hadn’t been out for three-and-a-half years.

“I wasn’t involved in any trouble.”

He claimed he had been shouting at a friend in the first incident and was moving away from a disturbance in the second.

“I tried to avoid trouble and landed myself in trouble,” Coates added.

Dismissing the application for the banning order, the bench chairman told him: “We are not convinced you were involved in any great fracas or violence on the day. Let this be a warning shot across the bow.”

Coates, of Olwyk, Basildon, Essex, was fined £120 and ordered to pay £55 costs, plus a £34 victim surcharge.

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