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Last Updated: Friday, 15 August, 2003, 14:16 GMT 15:16 UK
Ban for ex football minder
Neil MacNamara
Neil MacNamara admitted setting off a fire alarm
A former bodyguard of Cardiff City owner Sam Hammam has been banned from going to football matches for five years, after setting off a hoax fire alarm at a hotel where a rival team was sleeping.

Neil MacNamara triggered the alarm in May at the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, where QPR players were staying ahead of their play-off final against Cardiff.

The 39-year-old from Nantgarw, south Wales, had admitted criminal damage and making a false and malicious alarm of fire, but insisted that the offence was not football-related.

But magistrates in Abergavenny rejected his defence that he had set off the alarm at the Celtic Manor Resort on May 25 this year, in frustration after a row with his girlfriend.

This is as a result of Mr MacNamara's deliberate attempt to either disrupt the preparation of the QPR team or enhance the chances of Cardiff City through his deliberate act of criminal damage.
CPS statement
"We believe beyond any reasonable doubt that his action was to disturb the opposing team and enhance Cardiff City's chances of promotion," said JPs chairman Irene Cameron.

A CPS spokesman said: "Football hooliganism is always a serious matter, and whilst this offence does not relate to actions carried out in or around a sporting venue the magistrates have imposed the maximum banning order of five years in the case.

"This is as a result of Mr MacNamara's deliberate attempt to either disrupt the preparation of the QPR team or enhance the chances of Cardiff City through his deliberate act of criminal damage."

The restriction covers matches in Wales, England and abroad - Macnamara has also been ordered to pay a 1,000 in fines and costs.

As a result of McNamara's antics at the hotel in Newport, some QPR players were woken up by the alarm, but they were not among the 200 guests who had to leave their rooms at the hotel.

Celtic Manor Hotel
QPR players stayed at the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport

The following day, Cardiff won the game 1-0 in extra time to secure promotion to Division One.

The court haerd how MacNamara was seen on CCTV at the hotel setting off the fire alarm and police later discovered he had booked into the hotel under a false name.

Previously, he worked as a personal minder to Bluebirds owner Sam Hammam on his walkabouts around the club's Ninian Park pitch.

But he was sacked when he was jailed for six months for possessing a CS gas canister and driving a stolen 22,000 sports car.

He was given a football banning order for a year for using threatening words and behaviour in March 2000.

A spokesman for Cardiff City said: "Neil MacNamara is no longer anything to do with this football club. He was sacked last year following his conviction."




SEE ALSO:
Hammam ex-minder's hearing
16 Jul 03  |  Wales
Call for promotion party
26 May 03  |  South East Wales
Hammam eyes transfer market
26 May 03  |  Eng Div 2
Hammam minder sent to jail
21 May 02  |  Wales


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