Boro fan pleads guilty to Scott Laird attack
A Stevenage FC fan accused of punching a Boro player after the club’s historic FA Cup win over Newcastle pleaded guilty at court today (Wednesday).
Robert Fitzgerald, 24, of Colts Corner, Stevenage pleaded guilty to the charge of common assault as well as a second charge of pitch invasion.
The court heard how Fitzgerald, an unemployed personal trainer, concussed defender Scott Laird with a single punch during pitch celebrations after the club’s 3-1 giant killing on January 8.
The prosecution said that during the first half, the defendant had thrown water and spat in the direction of Mr Laird when he came near and in the second half threw a burger at him.
He then went onto the pitch after the final whistle and after congratulating some Stevenage players went up to Mr Laird and floored him. The player, who was helped by fans and teammates, was unable to remember leaving the pitch.
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In a statement to police Mr Laird, who suffered a minor injury to his face, said he “just wanted to play football, not be worried about him getting onto the pitch”.
The prosecution added that the punch could have lit “a blue torch paper” if other Stevenage fans thought the defendant was a Newcastle fan.
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The defence argued that Fitzgerald had hit Mr Laird in an act of “displaced loyalty” to his girlfriend who used to date the player. The defence said the player had not treated her “correctly”.
The girlfriend, Jade Coles, 24, of Letchworth was present in court as evidence was given. The pair have been in a relationship for nine months.
The court was told how Fitzgerald served a six-and-a-half year sentence for GBH in 2005. He was not on licence when he committed this latest offence.
The bench ordered a report from the probation service before sentencing takes place.
Fitzgerald was released on conditional bail, preventing him from contacting Mr Laird, or going to any football match.
He will reappear before Stevenage magistrates on February 17.