QPR football yobs jailed for railway station riot

HE may look like a harmless man, but John Spear has been jailed after smashing up an Essex railway station buffet.

Colin Adwent

HE may look like a harmless old man, but ageing football yob John Spear has been jailed after smashing up an Essex railway station buffet.

Along with Paul Colman, the 57-year-old was among a gang of around 15 Queens Park Rangers fans who attacked customers and vandalised the bar at Manningtree station.

Spear has been jailed for 21 months by Chelmsford Crown Court after being convicted of violent disorder, while Colman, 50, was given an 18-month prison sentence for the same offence.

Both took part in the terrifying attack which happened after Ipswich Town's home game against QPR on March 29 last year.

The pair, who have a history of football-related offences, have also been hit with six-year football banning orders.

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Their attempts to destroy Manningtree station buffet were finally thwarted by manageress Charlotte Sankey, who managed to fight off the rioting yobs by wielding a broom.

Following Colman and Spear's trial the 22-year-old was praised for her bravery by British Transport Police.

Detective Constable Alan Reed said: “Bottles and glasses were thrown and customers were injured.

“While it was going on Charlotte appeared from behind the bar waving a broom and got the hooligans out before closing the door on them.

“She was extremely brave. Without her bravery there is no doubt other people would have been injured and further damage done. If it were not for her the injuries would have been much more serious.”

Shortly after the hooligans stormed the buffet shouting “We are QPR”, Miss Sankey emerged from the cellar.

She said: “I came running upstairs and saw mayhem going on. There were probably seven or eight of them in the bar and others were trying to get in.

“I picked up a broom and ran into the middle of the bar and tried to hit anyone who came in. It's my dad's business so I wanted to protect the people in here.”

Spear, of Hillingdon, has previous convictions for threatening behaviour at a QPR v Celtic game and battery on a female steward at a match with Southampton.

Colman, of Watford, has earlier convictions were for invading the pitch at a QPR v Port Vale game and threatening behaviour at a match against Plymouth.

Pc Alvin Soomary, football intelligence officer from British Transport Police, said: “This was a serious incident of violent disorder.

“In this case the courts have imposed restrictive six-year banning orders that will severely curtail their ability to travel. I hope this sends out a strong message that behaviour of this kind will not be tolerated.”