Fan jailed over Lennon lunge

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Football News

A football fan cleared of a pitchside assault on Celtic manager Neil Lennon has been jailed for eight months for a breach of the peace at the match and handed a five-year football banning order.

John Wilson, 26, was accused of a sectarian attack on Lennon as his side played Hearts in a crucial Clydesdale Bank Premier League game at Tynecastle on May 11.

A jury at Edinburgh Sheriff Court last month found the charge against the unemployed labourer was not proven. The verdict came despite Wilson telling the court that he had lunged at Lennon and struck him on the head in an incident he claimed was not of a sectarian nature.

Celtic said the acquittal was "difficult to comprehend".

Hearts fan Wilson, from Edinburgh, was convicted of carrying out a breach of the peace during the game, after the jury deleted an allegation that the offence was aggravated by religious prejudice.

Television viewers looked on as Wilson invaded the pitch and charged towards Lennon during the match earlier this year. The incident unfolded after Celtic went two goals up.

At the trial, the jury of eight men and seven women took two and a half hours to find Wilson guilty of conducting himself in a disorderly manner, running on to the pitch, running at the away team dugout, shouting, swearing, causing disturbance to the crowd and breaching the peace.

The jury also cleared Wilson of assaulting Lennon, following the three-day trial, despite the accused admitting in open court that he had lunged at the Celtic manager, struck him on the head and assaulted him.

He had also tried to plead guilty to the assault at an earlier stage in the court proceedings, if the allegation that the incident was aggravated by religious prejudice was removed. Prosecutors rejected his plea and the case went before a jury.

The Lord Advocate, Frank Mulholland QC, subsequently defended the Crown's decision to prosecute Wilson for alleged sectarian remarks.

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