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Tuesday, 21 May, 2002, 11:14 GMT 12:14 UK
Hammam minder sent to jail
Neil MacNamara and Cardiff City chairman Sam Hammam
MacNamara (left) was seen by Hammam's side
A former member of Cardiff City Chairman Sam Hammam's security team has been jailed for six months.

Convicted soccer hooligan Neil MacNamara - who escorted Hammam around the pitch during matches - was jailed after a judge heard of his history of football violence.


You are not going to be allowed to walk away from the consequences of your actions

Judge John Curran
The 37-year-old from Nantgarw, south Wales, admitted possessing a CS gas canister and was convicted of driving a stolen 22,000 sports car.

Merthyr Crown Court was told on Tuesday of his string of previous convictions.

One followed an incident at a Cardiff City-Blackpool match when MacNamara was seen punching a man in the face three times.

At the time, he was convicted of using threatening and abusive behaviour - and banned from soccer matches for 12 months.

Dangerous game

Sam Hammam has come under fire for mixing socially with known soccer hooligans at Cardiff City.

The Lebanese businessman had vowed to stick by MacNamara despite knowing of his criminal past - describing him as a "close friend" and a reformed character.

But MacNamara was sacked by Cardiff City after his latest conviction for handling the stolen Toyota Celica convertible.


There are two sides to this man - his job opens him up to endless confrontations

Defence solicitor Huw Evans

The car had been stolen in Aberdare, south Wales, but had the registration number of a vehicle in Manchester which had been written off by insurers.

But MacNamara claimed he bought the car after seeing it advertised in a magazine.

Following his arrest in Cardiff in August 2001, police searched his home and found the CS gas canister.

MacNamara claimed he was given it by a nightclub owner after someone tried to smuggle it into a bar, and claimed he was planning to hand it in to the police.

Huw Evans, defending, said: "There are two sides to this man. His job opens him up to endless confrontations.

"He has been in the security business for a very long time and has developed a good reputation."

Mr Evans added: "He has a significant record of violence but this is an isolated incident of dishonesty."

Prison term

Jailing MacNamara for six months, Judge John Curran said: "You are not going to be allowed to walk away from the consequences of your actions.

"You don't have a previous good character."

Cardiff fans invade pitch after beating Leeds
Cardiff fans invaded the pitch after beating Leeds

MacNamara had paraded with Hammam during his controversial pitch side walk at the violence-scarred FA Cup tie against Leeds United in January.

He had only recently finished a 12-month ban from every football ground in the country for soccer violence.

Hammam admitted he had known about MacNamara's hooligan conviction for "some time".

At the time he said: "When I came to Cardiff I didn't know anyone but Macca has become a close friend.

"Sometimes in the security business you need to employ someone who is a poacher turned gamekeeper."

Cardiff City Football Club declined to comment officially, but a source said: "Neil is no longer employed here. If he is seen then it will be as a paying fan and not a member of staff."

See also:

20 May 02 | Wales
18 May 02 | Wales
17 May 02 | Cardiff City
10 Jan 02 | Wales
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