A member of a supporters group who call themselves the ‘Coleraine Casual Army’ has been banned from following his team until the start of the next decade after becoming what is believed to be the first person in Northern Ireland to be served with a full Football Banning Order.
Chris Mahood (23), a university student of Somerset Crescent, Coleraine, appeared at the town’s Magistrates Court on Thursday for sentencing after previously being convicted of disorderly behaviour following an Irish League match between Coleraine and their big rivals Ballymena United on Boxing Day last year which the home side won 2-1.
He had previously contested a charge of being disorderly at Tullyarton Road in the Harpur’s Hill estate in Coleraine close to the Coleraine Showgrounds which has been a regular hotspot for trouble involving Coleraine football hooligans in recent years.
The previous court had heard around 50 people left the football ground and gathered at Harpur’s Hill and police gave evidence Mahood threw a Buckfast bottle at them which narrowly missed an officer and smashed. At that court Mahood had claimed he was not a member of the CCA but that his friends were and he had met them at the scene.
Mahood was wearing a shirt and tie in the courtroom on Thursday and District Judge Liam McNally said he had made a finding of fact at the previous court that Mahood was a “fully fledged member” of the Coleraine Casual Army.
A prosecutor told the court because the CCA are known to be “such a risk” the police were at the Harpur’s Hill area on the day of the derby match.
The prosecutor said a senior police officer was present in the court to give an indication why Football Banning Orders are so important.
A defence barrister said when his client was 18 he had been diagnosed with a serious illness.
Sentencing Mahood on the disorderly behaviour charge, the judge ordered him to carry out 175 hours of Community Service work and as part of the Football Banning Order the defendant is banned from entering any premises for the purpose of attending regulated matches for the next four years until June 2, 2020.
He must not be within one mile of any stadium in any town where Coleraine Football Club is playing a regulated away match and he must not be within a mile of Coleraine Showgrounds for a period of two hours before and two hours after a regulated match.
A number of individuals believed to have links to the CCA have been in court in recent years.
There are other cases currently going through courts in the Coleraine area where prosecutors say they intend to seek Football Banning Orders.