Rioters are warned: you will not escape jail sentences

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The Home Office has warned English hooligans arrested for violence during Euro 2004 that they will have to serve any prison sentences imposed in Portugal - despite the release of a man found guilty of inciting a riot.

The Home Office has warned English hooligans arrested for violence during Euro 2004 that they will have to serve any prison sentences imposed in Portugal - despite the release of a man found guilty of inciting a riot.

Garry Mann, who was handed a two-year jail sentence by Portuguese authorities, walked free from a London court yesterday afternoon after taking advantage of a loophole in the law. Mr Mann, a firefighter from Faversham, Kent, was bailed until 28 July after officials admitted his Portuguese jail term was unenforceable in the UK.

The Home Office said Mr Mann, 46, who faced charges over his role during Monday night's violence in the Algarve town of Albufeira, could only serve his sentence in Britain if he had been jailed in Portugal first, and then applied for repatriation. Instead, he was deported almost immediately after his sentencing, meaning British authorities now have no authority to hold him.

Last night, the Home Office was at pains to point out that Mr Mann's remarkable release did not mean that others arrested for soccer-related violence during the Euro 2004 Championship would also avoid prison terms.

"We want to get the message across that anyone given a custodial sentence in Portugal can expect to serve that sentence when they return to the UK," a Home Office spokeswoman said.

Mr Mann appeared at Uxbridge Magistrates Court yesterday morning. He spoke only to confirm his name and address, and that he understood his bail conditions. He was told to surrender his passport and return for another hearing. He could lose his job with Kent Fire Brigade, after the organisation announced he would be suspended, pending an investigation.

Mr Mann, who still faces a three-year ban from football matches at home and abroad, was deported from Portugal with 11 other Britons on Friday. Police confirmed they would take no action against the others, but that all 12 would be banned from returning to Portugal for one year.

Portuguese police said the matter had been taken out of their jurisdiction after the men were delivered to Heathrow airport. "We did our job and we are continuing to do our job," a spokesman said.

Yesterday, that job included the arrest of 15 more England fans after further violence broke out in Albufeira. The violence was nowhere near the scale of Monday or Tuesday, however, and most of those detained had been released by yesterday evening.

A Foreign Office spokesman said that 22 England fans had been deported so far, with the tournament less than a week old. Football's European governing body, Uefa, has said that the England team could be expelled from the tournament if trouble erupts.

A number of the deported fans have protested their innocence, and cited examples of heavy-handed and unprovoked violence by Portuguese police. Yesterday, Peter Barwick, 37, from Thornaby, Teesside, among those deported from Portugal, claimed he was assaulted by police.

Mr Barwick said he was more than a mile from violence involving England fans in Albuferia's main tourist area when he had his England shirt ripped from his back by riot police who struck him with batons.

"English fans have a reputation, and the police want to make an example," he said. "With the mindset they have got, they are going to arrest people and are going for easy targets."