A man who punched a police horse then swung at her twice more, ahead of a much-anticipated football match, has been jailed for 20 months.
Derek Jennings, 53, of Laburnum Grove, Portsmouth, punched police horse Luna in the lead-up to the Carabao Cup, between Portsmouth and Southampton on 24 September last year.
Jennings appeared at Portsmouth Crown Court on Friday (31 July), having pleaded guilty to a charge of violent disorder at an earlier hearing.
The court heard a police commander had noticed Jennings becoming aggressive towards officers and rival Southampton fans during the build-up to the game in Goldsmith Avenue, at Fratton Way.
The officer riding Luna headed towards Jennings, who clenched his first and punched Luna on the nose. The mare shied away from the attack, but Jennings swung at Luna twice more before he attempted to run away.
The court was told Jennings ran towards officers who warned him to stop, with Luna following him, and he was quickly arrested and taken into custody.
He was sentenced to 20 months in prison and given a six-year football banning order.
DCI John McGonigle of Hampshire Constabulary said: “Sadly as we anticipated, there was a minority of people who were intent on ruining this much-anticipated derby for everyone else and Jennings was one of those. This is why we ensured there was a significant policing operation around this match, alongside careful planning with both clubs, so that we could act quickly and stop any disruption.
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“For a grown man to act in this way was deplorable, especially against an animal, who was simply there to help protect people who wanted to enjoy the game and get home safely. We hope this sentence sends a clear message that we will not tolerate this type of behaviour or any disorder at any public event. Action will be taken and those responsible will be investigated.”
DCI McGonigle added Luna was uninjured in the attack and able to remain on duty, but the force made sure she received plenty of care and attention, “plus a few extra treats”.
“We’d like to thank the public for the outpouring of support we received for Luna, it was very much appreciated,” he said.
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