Crystal Palace fan from Wallington cleared in football ground ban bid
A 19-year-old student branded a problem supporter by police has won his court battle against a football ground ban.
Crystal Palace fan Liam Melody, of Stanley Gardens, Wallington, appeared at Tower Bridge Magistrates Court on Monday (July 9) to hear his football banning order thrown out.
The court was shown video footage of Mr Melody at a Birmingham City and Millwall game last year, but the footage didn't convince magistrates Mr Melody was the "problem supporter" police had made out.
PC Perry Lathwood, giving evidence in court, surmised Mr Melody had "a very quick temper" and often used "insulting and abusive" language after several dealings with him at Palace games last season.
He argued by banning Mr Melody it would "help to restore order at Crystal Palace".
The court heard how PC Lathwood had to be asked to remove a Holmesdale Fanatics sticker from his police baton after a complaint was made.
But police failed to convince magistrates Mr Melody was a prominent and violent member of the Holmesdale Fanatics.
Alison Gurden, acting on behalf of Mr Melody, told the court: "Liam has never been removed or excluded from a game. There is no evidence his behaviour has encouraged others. To place a banning order is a life punishment and not necessary."
In a veiled criticism of the police, Mrs Burden said police intelligence, "could have come from anyone" and "couldn't be checked".
Mr Melody, whom the court heard has no previous convictions, said he "just went along" with a song about football intelligence officer PC Mike Dorans.
The court heard how Palace fans had been mocking the officer with a song claiming he slept in his car but Mr Melody denied knowing the officer was going through a divorce at the time, saying it was "just banter".
The Fanatics are the Eagles' core supporters, or Ultras.
In Europe, the term Ultra is synonymous with football hooliganism and violence - but not the Fanatics, Mr Melody told the court.
He said: "We are a pretty vocal group, we just sing songs to support the team."