Hamilton football hooligans avoid prison

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A GANG of football hooligans who fought rival fans in a busy retail park as horrified families looked on escaped a jail sentence yesterday.

The violent bust-up unfolded at New Douglas Retail Park in Hamilton, Lanarkshire, between two rival groups of supporters one following Hamilton Academical and the other Dundee Football Club.

Two gangs of up to 30 “casuals” ran riot, attacked each other and even spat at disgusted onlookers.

Shaun Murray, 27, Liam Fullerton, 18, Daniel Weir, 21, Jamie Gilchrist, 29, all Dundee, and Joseph Roeves, 19, from Hamilton, were on trial at Hamilton Sheriff Court last month.

They had denied fighting and causing fear and alarm on the day of a Scottish First Division match on 3 December, 2011.

A jury found them guilty but yesterday they walked free from court after Sheriff Ray Small ordered each of them to perform 250 hours of unpaid work. A 13-day trial had heard how shoppers and young children were forced to run into shops for cover as the violent encounter unfolded.

Sales manager Sean Bicknell, 28, described how trouble broke out when the gangs clashed near the football ground.

He said: “It was mayhem. I would describe it as a large-scale disorder. It wasn’t just one-on-one fights going on. It was four on one. My impression was it was an organised event.”