Fan jailed 14 weeks for assault on Grealish
A Birmingham City fan has been jailed for 14 weeks after pleading guilty to assaulting Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish during the derby between the sides on Sunday.
Paul Mitchell, 27, swung a punch at Grealish when the player’s back was turned after Mitchell ran onto the pitch at Birmingham City’s St. Andrew’s stadium during the Championship match.
Mitchell, from Rubery, Worcestershire, also admitted to invading the pitch and has been banned from attending any football match in the U.K. for 10 years. He was also ordered to pay £350 in fines.
The incident happened in the 10th minute of the match between the rivals as Grealish walked away from the stands when the ball went out for a corner.
He required no further treatment and went on to score the winning goal for Aston Villa in the second half.
A statement from Grealish that was read in court described how he was “shocked and scared” by the attack.
“I cannot help but feel how lucky I was in this incident,” the player said. “It could have been so much worse had the supporter had some sort of weapon.”
The defence said Mitchell’s behaviour was out of character and said he apologised to Grealish.
“He cannot explain what came over himself yesterday morning,” Mitchell’s lawyer, Vaughn Whistance, said Monday.
“His initial foolish intention was to go onto the pitch to whip up the crowd. He is certainly remorseful today. He is a man with a partner, they have a 2-year-old together, and they’re expecting their second child.”
The defence also said Mitchell’s family had been forced to move out of their home overnight through fears of “serious harm or even death.”
The incident was one of several that has damaged the reputation of British football in the last week.
An Arsenal fan also managed to enter the pitch and make contact with Manchester United’s Chris Smalling at the Emirates Stadium. The fan has been charged with common assault.