A Sunderland fan accused of directing a foul-mouthed tirade at police following the Black Cats’ derby day victory has been cleared.
Anthony Paul Holyoak, who admitted chanting obscene songs about Newcastle’s record goalscorer Alan Shearer, was arrested in Sunderland following the Wearside outfit’s 3-0 win in April.
Chief Insp George Maratty was overseeing a police unit of more than 200 officers when Mr Holyoak spilled onto Holmeside from the Sinatra’s Bar.
Officers claimed the 21-year-old was drunk and disorderly, and said he repeatedly swore at them when they warned him to leave.
But magistrates in Sunderland yesterday dismissed the case despite Mr Holyoak admitting his actions may have been viewed as disorderly.
They said there were “inconsistencies in the police evidence” and it could not be proven that he was drunk.
Following yesterday’s verdict Mr Holyoak, of Brandling Street, Roker, Sunderland, said: “I knew I had done nothing wrong in the first place.
“There was no point in arresting me in the first place.”
Mr Holyoak was arrested earlier this year on April 14 at around 2pm after watching the game with his mother and girlfriend.
He said he had only had one-and-a-half pints of lager because he wanted to look after his girlfriend.
PC Stuart Conway told a hearing in Sunderland that officers had stepped in after Mr Holyoak “crossed the line” after gesturing at police and refusing to move on.
Chief Insp Maratty told the hearing Mr Holyoak had been jumping and shouting, and he feared that his behaviour might “inflame a tense situation in Sunderland city centre”.
He said: “His actions were intimidating and aggressive, it was not light-hearted drunken behaviour.
“It was aggressive and intimidating, and it was almost an invite to someone to get engaged in some kind of disorder.”
He added: “Because of my responsibilities that day, I was in command of some 200 officers, I didn’t want to go to the station. I just wanted him to leave.”
Mr Holyoak admitted that he had been chanting, but said he was gesturing to his mother and girlfriend who were on the other side of the road.
He said that when officers told him to move he complied, but was then forced to the ground. He said: “The full-time whistle went and we came out of the pub chanting.
“Everyone was in high spirits and we walked past the police van and we were chanting, and there were swear words and offensive language in the chants, and the police must have thought it was directed at them.
“We walked away and I’ve been grabbed from behind and pulled to the floor.”
Mr Holyoak said he was kept waiting at the back of the van for 20 minutes with people passing by “thinking he was a thug”.
Chairman of the bench Jon Scott said: “Although we heard evidence from very experienced officers, there were inconsistencies in that evidence.”
He dismissed the case.