Stevenage FC fan escapes banning order after Luton Town racist chant

Daniel Baker was found guilty at Stevenage Magistrates' Court.

Daniel Baker was found guilty at Stevenage Magistrates' Court. - Credit: Archant

A Stevenage FC fan who hurled racist abuse at rival Luton Town supporters in a derby game is free to carry on watching football across the country – but not at The Lamex Stadium.

Magistrates fined him for his outburst but decided against a banning order which would have kept him away from live football, because he didn’t use violence.

Stevenage FC have gone a step further and banned him from attending games at their ground until at least next season.

But they are powerless to stop him watching the away match at Luton’s Kenilworth Road stadium in May.

Daniel Baker, of Caernarvon Close in Stevenage, was at the hotly-contested game at the Broadhall Way ground with a group of around 30 others.

They positioned themselves at the southern part of the East Terrace, near the away supporters’ end, for the 3pm kick-off on October 4.

It was the first time the two clubs had met in more than four years and 23-year-old Baker shouted the racist chant about Stevenage player Ronnie Henry after the home side equalised on 33 minutes.

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A steward and her supervisor said there were entirely sure they heard Baker sing “Ronnie Henry, he hates Luton, he hates Pakis”.

Some of the group that the 23-year-old was with had already been removed from the stadium for unruly behaviour and the supervisor said he remembered jobless Baker, who he thinks is part of a group that call themselves the ‘Borough Bandits’, being particularly rowdy.

PC Dave Elgy arrested Baker after stewards told him about the chant. He said he was standing between 10 and 20 metres from Baker and said he was “sure as day” that he heard him shout “Ronnie Edwards (sic), he’s a rent boy, he’s a Paki.”

When defence solicitor David Stott asked all of the witnesses if they were sure about the use of the racial term they all replied that there were entirely certain.

Baker, the last witness to take to the stand, denied using racist language and said: “It was all friendly banter between sets of fans and what you normally have at a football game.”

After the bench retired magistrate Sue Gordon said: “We rely on the stewards evidence and their experience. The police officer heard something different but that doesn’t lead us to doubt their evidence which we find compelling.

“We are satisfied that you chanted and did use the word Paki once. We find that you did not use the word rent boy.”

Baker had a previous conviction for using threatening words in 2010 and is currently subject to a court order that expires in February.

Prosecution solicitor Jessica Deuchar proposed a football banning order but the magistrates did not feel that the crime warranted it.

Baker was ordered to pay £770 in fines, which will be taken out of his benefits. Before he left Mrs Gordon said; “Do not get into trouble at football games again because next time you will have a banning order.”