A TEENAGER who was involved in organised football violence on Preston railway station has managed to escape a football banning order.

Blackburn Magistrates' Court was told that since the violent clash, on February 22, 2020, Theo Keniford had distanced himself from the others involved, had two part-time jobs and had returned to college to complete his A level studies.

Keniford, 18, of Pendle Drive, Whalley, had pleaded guilty to violent disorder at a previous hearing in February.

Because he was 16 at the time of the incident, and still a juvenile when he pleaded guilty, he was dealt with by a referral order for nine months and ordered to pay £200 costs.

Magistrates did not make a football banning order as they felt it was unnecessary to prevent violence or disorder in the future.

“We believe this was an isolated incident at a time when you were associating with people who were a bad influence,” said the chair.

“You needed to grow up and we believe you have done that.

"You are very lucky this case has taken so long to come to an end because it has given you the chance to demonstrate that you are motivated to change.”

Scott Parker, prosecuting, said on the day of the incident Blackburn Rovers had been playing at Brentford and Preston North End were at home to Hull.

“There had been contact between two groups of fans via social media,” said Mr Parker.

“Shortly after 7pm, in excess of 30 males were involved in an incident of pre-planned public disorder.”

Mr Parker said around 20 Preston fans could be seen gathering at the top of a ramp leading down to the platforms.

A train arrived at platform three carrying a group of nine Blackburn supporters, including the defendant.

“A fight started between two men and this soon escalated as members of both groups joined in,” said Mr Parker.

“Punches were thrown and people were kicked on the floor. A train was moving alongside fighting supporters who were just inches away.”

Mr Parker said the duty manager at the station described how the incident caused panic among the commuting public which included men, women and children.

“He was scared that someone might be dragged under the train,” said Mr Parker.

The Preston fans left the station and headed towards the town centre.

“The Blackburn fans followed but not before meeting up with more Blackburn fans who had arrived on another train,” added Mr Parker.

“Further football related disorder was reported in the town centre.”

Mr Parker said 19 of the youths involved were eventually identified by British Transport and Lancashire police.

Ivan Dickinson, in mitigation, said his client had done a lot of growing up since the incident.

“The proceedings have scared him to death,” said Mr Dickinson.

He said the looming prosecution had spoiled his Year 12 at college and he had been allowed to do it again.

“He also has two part-time jobs, one of them at Accrington Stanley and his aspirations going forward are to go to university with a view to becoming a paramedic,” said Mr Dickinson.

He said the magistrates had to decide if it was reasonable to believe that making a football banning order would prevent violence and disorder.

Keniford received a referral order. A referra order when a young offender is referred to a panel of two trained community volunteers and a member of the youth offending team.

They work with the juvenile to talk with them about themselves and their offending, and will then ask the offender to agree and sign a contract that will include activities to stop them offending again. 

If the terms of the order are not kept to, the offender can be brought back to the court and given a different sentence.