English football fan jailed for assault on policeman: Five convicted in Rotterdam court as judge says Dutch fed up with violent guests in their country. David Connett reports

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The Independent Online
AN ENGLAND football fan was jailed for three weeks last night after being convicted of assaulting a police officer during disturbances in Rotterdam.

Raymond Gregory, 30, of Enfield, north London, was led away protesting his innocence.

Judge Rita Bosman, jailing him, said the people of the Netherlands were fed up with football violence. She hoped something could be done 'for once and for all' to prevent 'so-called foreign guests bringing violence to this country'.

Four other fans received suspended jail sentences and fines. A sixth was acquitted.

Gregory was said to be one of a group of fans who attacked Dutch police officers in central Rotterdam before Wednesday's World Cup match between the Netherlands and England.

Two plain-clothes officers spotted him attacking a uniformed officer from behind. The officer shrank with fear and blood poured from his ear. Both officers then arrested Gregory.

He told the court all he could remember was people rushing past him and being 'whacked' on the back of the neck. 'I have been to 26 England games and never been in any trouble. I was trying to keep out of it,' he said. The crowd had pushed him to the floor and police 'presumed' he was causing trouble.

Also convicted at the special court was Mark Giamasi, 23, of Liverpool, accused of assaulting a Dutch fan. Denying the charge, he claimed he was attacked by rival fans and had run for safety. He was sentenced to one month in prison suspended for two years and fined 500 guilders ( pounds 250).

Dale Hepworth, 35, a builder, of Doncaster, south Yorkshire, was found guilty of trying to damage the steel gate of a cage English fans had been put in during disturbances at the stadium. He was fined 1,000 guilders ( pounds 500).

Dean Turner, 31, of Colchester, Essex, was convicted of attacking two police officers three minutes after arriving in Rotterdam on a train, the court heard. He claimed he was knocked to the ground and when he went to thank the two civilians who helped him up he found they were plain clothes police and he was under arrest.

He was jailed for two months, suspended for two years and fined 1,000 guilders ( pounds 500).

Richard Bradley, 29, of Blackpool, Lancashire, was convicted of attacking rival fans. The court was told he was caught after running into a police horse. Bradley denied kicking people, and said he had a steel plate in his leg and was registered disabled.

The court acquitted a fifth fan, John Belshaw, 18, of Wigan, Greater Manchester.

Dutch police said yesterday that despite 800 arrests they were very pleased with the police operation.

Police said most fans were arrested for being without a ticket or because their behaviour on the streets was likely to cause a disturbance.

A spokesman for Rotterdam police said: 'Our goal was to separate the two groups of fans which we largely succeeded in doing. There were a few fights, and every fight is one too much, but we think that we did a good job.'

A group of 400 fans arrested and detained in military barracks before Wednesday's game were simply released without charge, and bussed back to central Rotterdam.

The police spokesman said: 'Initially we thought we would deport them but after discussions with the justice department we decided what they had done was not so serious that we had to do that.'

(Photograph omitted)