Canaries fan barely able to eat after attack

STEVE DOWNES A teenage Norwich City fan was barely able to eat and drink for months after a “gratuitously violent” attack by a former QPR mascot, a court heard.

STEVE DOWNES

A teenage Norwich City fan was barely able to eat and drink for months after a “gratuitously violent” attack by a former QPR mascot, a court heard yesterday.

Sixteen-year-old Carrow Road season ticket holder John Seater said the unprovoked attack had “ruined” his confidence - but vowed not to let it “destroy my life”.

The teenager was punched to the ground by Matthew McHugh after a Canaries match at QPR's Loftus Road in London on October 22, 2005.

Yesterday, 20-year-old McHugh, of Culinton Close, Kenton, Middlesex, was jailed for a year by a judge who attacked the severity of the “premeditated attack”.

Blackfriars Crown Court heard that powerfully-built McHugh and two friends trailed a group of Norwich City fans following the match, which City lost 3-0.

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McHugh, who was chosen as the club's team mascot when he was a child, threw a single punch that knocked Mr Seater to the ground, shattered a number of his teeth and left him struggling to eat or drink.

The court heard Mr Seater had also suffered psychological damage and may need root canal surgery to repair the damage to his teeth.

McHugh, an apprentice electrician who studies part time at Acton and West London College, changed his plea to guilty three days into a trial on a single charge of causing actual bodily harm.

He was told by Judge David Martineau that prison was inevitable for such a display of “gratuitous violence”.

He said: “The most serious aspect of this offence is that it was quite plainly and obviously premeditated.

“You and your two friends followed this group of five younger boys because they were Norwich City supporters and you were Queens Park Rangers fans.

“You deliberately provoked, between the three of you, a confrontation with Mr Seater. One of you kicked him in the back of the leg to try and make him turn round, another invited violence, and you punched him.

“The injury was serious and caused very considerable difficulty and discomfort in eating and so on for a good few months,” he said.

As several of McHugh's relatives burst into tears, the judge added he would also have to pay his victim £500 compensation and would be banned from all football matches for six years.

In his victim impact statement, Mr Seater said: “The attack was totally unprovoked and has had a very traumatising effect on me. It has totally ruined my confidence. I went to a football match on Saturday and I was scared all day.

“I am determined not to let this incident destroy my life as I am a season ticket holder at a Norwich and a genuine football fan.”

Mark Weekes, prosecuting, told the court earlier that months before the incident the defendant had been bound over for using threatening words and behaviour after shouting “come and have a go” at a group of Ipswich Town fans following a February 2005 fixture.

A previous banning order resulting from the offence had been set aside, giving McHugh the opportunity to return to Loftus Road and to re-offend.

Charlotte Eadie, defending, said: “He has been going to matches all his life. He fell in with the wrong crowd.”

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