Fan who ran onto pitch and waved rudely at rivals banned for three years


A football fan who ran onto the pitch and made a rude gesture towards away supporters when his team scored an equalizer has been banned from attending all football matches in Britain for three years.

Jacob Helmsley, 24, rushed onto the pitch at the Amex Stadium in Brighton, East Sussex, to give the ‘w****r sign’ to Crystal Palace fans during a clash between rival teams earlier this year.

He managed to step onto the turf to celebrate a Brighton and Hove Albion goal in the dying minutes of the match, then gave the attacking salutes to goad the shocked Palace supporters.

Shocked families and children saw him giving an offensive hand sign, prosecutors said.

Helmsley then ran into the stands to avoid being caught by police and stewards.

But he was picked up by CCTV and club staff tracked him down so police could arrest the wayward fan minutes later at half-time.

While speaking to officers at the time, Helmsley claimed he did not realize he had committed a crime and could not understand why he was pulled over and questioned by cops.

He told the police, “Dude, I just ran into the field in front of all these people.”

Palace had won 1-0 until the 87th minute when the south London club scored an own goal to level the game. It was at this dramatic moment in the game that Helmsley took to the pitch in celebration.

After the game on January 14, Helmsley, of Burgess Hill, West Sussex, was charged with entering the playing area of ​​a football match contrary to the Football Offenses Act.

At Brighton Magistrates’ Court on Thursday June 9, he pleaded guilty and was handed a three-year football banning order, which bars him from attending any professional matches in England and Wales for three year.

He also cannot attend England games and will have to hand over his passport to the police when the national team plays abroad.

Helmsley was also ordered to pay a fine of £400, with a victim surcharge of £40 and court costs of £85.

Dedicated Sussex Police football officer PC Darren Balkham said today (Tuesday) that there was an increase in fans invading the pitch at all levels of the professional game as the season drew to a close its end.

He added that Helmsley had a “crazy moment”.

PC Balkham said: “In recent months we have seen a worrying increase in the number of incidents of fans entering the pitch.

“Helmsley claimed he was just celebrating and having fun, but acknowledged he had caused disruption and apologized. He was seen to antagonize opposing fans during the game.

“Fans who enter the pitch without permission pose a danger to players, club staff and stewards, other fans and themselves.

“This conviction demonstrates that anyone who invades the field is committing a criminal offense, and we will not tolerate it.

“Helmsley has received a three-year football ban order which bars him from attending all football events in the UK and prohibits him from traveling when the England team play outside the UK -United. He also faces further action from Brighton and Hove Albion.

“It’s the price he has to pay for his moment of madness.”

Brighton and Hove Albion have said Helmsley will also be banned from some home and away matches at the south coast side after the three-year order expires.

A club spokesperson added: “We welcome the verdict and thank Sussex Police and the court for their support in prosecuting the offender.

“There is never an excuse for fans to leave the stands and enter the pitch in this way, as it puts their own safety and that of others at risk.

“We saw a worrying trend of incursions onto the pitch at the end of last season across the UK, and all supporters should be reminded that this is a criminal offence.

“The safety of players, officials, stewards and staff is of paramount importance, and it is essential that they can do their jobs without being disturbed or fearing pitch invasions.

“So in addition to the court order, he will also face a significant ban from all Brighton & Hove Albion home and away games.”

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