‘It breaks my heart’: man sentenced for punching police horse with beer can

  • A man who punched a police horse with a can of beer has been banned from attending football games for three years.

    Peter Mincher, 43, of Lindsay Road, Hartlepool, was found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal when he appeared at Bristol Magistrates’ Court on 31 January.

    PC Helen du Heaume of Avon & Somerset Police was riding 13-year-old gelding Blaise, with three other mounted officers, at the national league play-off final between Hartlepool United and Torquay United at Ashton Gate Stadium on 20 June 2021.

    PC du Heaume told H&H she and her colleagues were clearing the road, moving Hartlepool football fans from the middle of the highway.

    “We were riding slowly, without using force, asking people to move out of the road. People had moved to the side and as I rode past, a man took his can of beer and punched Blaise on the side of his face,” she said.

    “Blaise spooked and shuffled backwards, but once I put my leg on he moved forward and kept moving the crowd back, so he handled it pretty well. It was a such a volatile situation, even though the crowds were moving back, they were throwing missiles such as cans and flags. One of my colleagues got a flare thrown at her face.”

    PC du Heaume said Mincher, who claimed in court that the horses were flighty and he felt like he was protecting himself, was captured striking Blaise on her body camera. The footage was sent to football intelligence officers, who were able to identify and later arrest him.

    Blaise, who has been with Avon & Somerset Police for around six years and is one of the force’s most experienced horses, was not injured and PC du Heaume said he had suffered no lasting effects.

    “These horses serve the public, they’re so loyal and obedient and it’s just a disgrace that a member of the public thinks that is acceptable. It breaks my heart,” said PC du Heaume, adding that the message to the public is that these incidents will not be tolerated.

    ‘If we can identify them and get them to court then 100% we will. That’s where the body cam is so helpful, now officers all wear body cameras so with incidents like this it makes it much easier for us to catch and prosecute people.”

    Mincher was fined and ordered to pay costs and a victim surcharge totalling £1,215. He was given a three-year football banning order, which means he must not attend games for three years.

    PC Tom Williams, one of the force’s football officers, said incidents of disorder had risen nationally this season.

    “I’d like to reassure both fans and other members of the public that we continue to work closely with partners, including clubs, to make matches a safe environment for all,” he said.

    “There is absolutely no place for any kind of violence in football and we will deal robustly with anyone who engages in such behaviour.”

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