The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Fan gets four months for hitting ’keeper

Birmingham: A Birmingham City soccer fan who ran onto the pitch during a Premier League game and slapped the Aston Villa goalkeeper was sentenced to four months in jail on Monday.

Michael Harper, a 26-year-old labourer, ran onto the field three times during Birmingham’s 3-0 win over their cross-town rivals on September 16 — the first league match between the two sides in 16 years.

Birmingham magistrates court was shown closed circuit television footage of Harper approaching Villa goalkeeper Peter Enckelman, taunting, then slapping him after he conceded a fluke goal on a throw-in.

District judge Richard Clancy told Harper his behaviour was so serious it warranted a jail sentence. Harper was also banned from attending any designated soccer matches for the next six years.

“Other people that saw your conduct are in a situation where a message must go out to them,” Clancy said.

“This was a very public thing that you did and the players are entitled to protection. Many people were excited on that day, but did not choose to go on to the pitch in the way you did.” (AP)

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