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Last Updated: Friday, 7 May, 2004, 20:03 GMT 21:03 UK
Hooligans jailed over fight plot
Steven Carpenter
Steven Carpenter received a four-year jail term on Friday
Seventeen football hooligans have been jailed for having arranged to meet up for a fight at a London rail station.

All were issued banning orders and jailed for a total of 38 years for plotting to commit violent disorder.

The charges relate to a fight in April 2002 at London's Maze Hill Station between Charlton and Southampton fans, which left three men in hospital.

British Transport Police believed the men would have caused trouble at Euro 2004 if they had not been banned.

At Kingston Crown Court, Surrey, on Friday, Judge Fergus Mitchell jailed Steven David Carpenter, 39, of Eltham, for four years and 37-year-old Dave Walker of Stafford, a history teacher said to have an "exemplary record", for two years and three months.

Andrew McConville, 35, of Abbey Wood, William Joseph Greenall, 32, of Plumstead, Woolwich, Neil John Shaw, 39, of Erith, Christopher David Bowles, 22, of Southampton and Stephen Trevor Openshaw, 30, of Leigh, Lancashire, were all jailed for two years.

Walker, a married father, was considered an "outstanding teacher" and is said to have received glowing tributes from pupils and staff at the Birmingham boys' school where he teaches.

Another ten men had already been given jail terms and both groups have received six-year banning orders.

Police discovered, after searching houses and seizing computers and mobile phones, that the fight between the two groups had been deliberately planned.

"Our experience of football hooliganism over the past two years is that it has become more organised and the violence more intense," Superintendent Colum Price said.

CCTV footage from Maze Hill station
Maze Hill station CCTV captured the brief but violent fight

"We have devoted increasing resources to policing football fans and have a good record of pre-empting disorder through good intelligence and the timely deployment of officers to escort trains and cover stations.

"But events such as those at Maze Hill, deliberately organised to avoid police detection, do occur and are of growing concern to rail users and train companies."

The brief but violent fight happened on the platform of the south-east London station when about 15 Southampton fans arrived and clashed with about 20 Charlton fans.

It lasted only a couple of minutes and everyone had dispersed by the time police arrived.

Statements from witnesses and examination of CCTV and photographic evidence led to the identification of the suspects.

Initially 20 people were arrested on suspicion of football-related violent disorder in October 2002, during dawn raids at 22 addresses in Hampshire and London.

Other arrests followed as more than 150 officers from British Transport Police, Hampshire and the Metropolitan Police took part in the operation.

Fifteen men were charged with conspiracy to commit violent disorder.

As the investigation progressed several other people were implicated in the conspiracy and four more were arrested and charged on 3 July 2003.

These included Dave Walker, known as "Three Lions," and Stephen Openshaw.

Walker contacted Spencer English by email on several occasions before the fight at Maze Hill, to firm up arrangements for the planned confrontation.




WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC London's Samantha Simmonds
"The whole thing was planned by emails, text messages and internet postings"



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