Fans spared jail over violent clash between Dundee and Hamilton fans in retail park
14:30 GMT, 23 April 2013
16:36 GMT, 23 April 2013
A gang of hooligans who fought rival fans in a busy retail park as horrified families looked on escaped jail today.
The violent bust-up unfolded at New Douglas Retail Park in Hamilton, Lanarkshire, between supporters of Hamilton Academical and Dundee.
Two gangs of up to 30 'casuals' ran riot, battered each other and even spat at disgusted onlookers.
Shaun Murray, 27, Liam Fullerton, 18,
Daniel Weir, 21, Jamie Gilchrist, 29, all from Dundee, and Joseph
Roeves, 19, from Hamilton, were on trial at Hamilton Sheriff Court last
Walking free: (left to right) Shaun Murray, Liam Fullerton, and Jamie Gilchrist must do community service
They had denied fighting and causing fear and alarm on the day of a Scottish First Division match on December 3, 2011.
A jury found them guilty but on Tuesday they walked free from court after Sheriff Ray Small ordered each of them to perform 250 hours of unpaid work.
However he refused to hand down Football Banning Orders despite prosecutors asking for them to be imposed.
A 13-day trial had heard how shoppers and young children were forced to run into shops for cover as the violent encounter unfolded.
The gangs, who all dressed in casual clothes and wore no football colours, fought and launched bottles at each other. One innocent man who was with his young daughter was even spat at by one of the thugs.
Sales manager Sean Bicknell, 28, described how mayhem had erupted when the gangs clashed near Accies’ ground.
said: 'It was mayhem. I would describe it as a large scale disorder. It
wasn’t just one on one fights going on. It was four on one. My
impression was it was an organised event.'
Lyndsay Farrell, 31, from Motherwell, was shopping in the area at the time the fight broke out.
She told the court how she was forced to take cover in her car as the shocking incident spiralled out of control.
Scary scenes: The violence erupted at at New Douglas Retail Park in Hamilton, Lanarkshire
Miss Farrell said: 'I could see people in front of me who had a hold of one male. They were punching and kicking him and tried to drag him to the ground. A lot of them had bloody noses and things.'
Defence lawyers for all five men said the incident was out of character for them and only Roeves had a previous conviction.
Passing sentence, Sheriff Small said: 'We had to sit through a very lengthy trial about the activities and actions of the accused and particularly those who travelled from Dundee.
'I am in no doubt that those who travelled down got involved in a very unpleasant incident.
'I want to make it clear that if there was evidence that any of you had been personally involved in knocking anyone to the ground, throwing bottles or other violence you would be receiving a prison sentence.
'However it is unclear from the evidence whether you were directly involved in the disorder or were on the fringes but the fact you got involved means you deserve to be punished.
'I will impose a Community Payback Order of 250 hours to be completed over 12 months.'
Sheriff Small said he would tell Hamilton Accademical and Dundee FC of the convictions.
Ryan Devaney, 23, of Dundee had earlier walked free after the jury found the charge against him not proven.