A businessman who hurled a coin which hit a linesman during an Aston Villa game has been fined £2,300 and branded by a magistrate as a “stupid drunken lunatic”.
John Billington, who drank six pints of beer before the incident, was also given a five-year order banning him from going to any football match.
In addition the 43-year-old of Beechey Close, Great Barr, who had previously admitted a charge of common assault, was also ordered to pay £250 compensation and £87 costs.
Chairman of the bench Dr Ann Morrison said: “There can be absolutely no excuse for any assault upon an official doing their duty.”
But she said she and her colleagues accepted that his biggest punishment was having a serious criminal record and that his family and children had already suffered because of his “stupidity”.
Jonathan Purser, prosecuting at Birmingham Magistrates Court, said the match between Aston Villa and Portsmouth took place on October 18 last year and that the injured party was linesman Phil Sharp.
“He says that during the second half of the match he felt something strike him on the right side of his forehead and saw something shiny fall on the floor.
“That was a 50p piece thrown at him from the spectator area.”
He alerted the referee who stopped the match and the coin was subsequently found on the pitch.
Mr Purser said Mr Sharp suffered a 1.5cm long cut to his forehead which had since healed.
Efforts were made by the police to find the culprit and a particular section of the stands was identified as the likely source.
Letters were subsequently sent to season ticket holders and a reply implicated one particular individual.
It was at this point that Billington came forward and admitted what he had done.
When interviewed he said he had no real reason for throwing the coin and that it was only when he saw Mr Sharp holding his head he realised what he had done.
Mr Purser said he believed that Billington had been informed by Aston Villa FC that he had been banned for life from going to the ground.
Harman Bal, defending, said Billington, who is a managing director of an engineering company, was profoundly ashamed of his actions and could not express his regret and remorse enough.
“He believes he has let his team and supporters down,” he said.
Mr Bal said Billington had been a season ticket holder for 30 years and that he ran marathons for charity.
“He did not deliberately target the vulnerable victim. It was just an impulsive act,” he said.
Billington left the court building without comment.