Flare thrown at pitch ‘to stop feet burning’

Almondvale stadium, in Livingston. Pic: SNS Group

Almondvale stadium, in Livingston. Pic: SNS Group

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A match goer threw a burning flare onto the pitch at a Scottish Junior cup final because it was setting fire to his trainers, a court heard.

John Cochrane said he also lobbed a smoke grenade which had been set off in the stand in front of him because the fumes were choking him.

Livingston Sheriff Court heard the pyrotechnic missiles almost hit PC Brian Reid, who was standing on the pitch below.

Cochrane, 22, pled guilty yesterday to acting in a culpable and reckless manner while on bail.

He claimed another supporter had set off the incendiary objects at the junior cup final at Livingston United’s Almondvale Stadium on June 2 last year.

The devices landed at his feet shortly after the match ended with local West Lothian team Linlithgow Rose losing to visitors Auchinleck Talbot.

Lyndsey Armstrong, prosecuting, said a number of grenades and flares had been set off among Linlithgow Rose supporters during the game, but the individuals responsible had not been identified.

However, Cochrane was seen picking up the two lit items off the ground.

Witnesses then saw him throw them over the crowd onto the playing surface.

She added: “The smoke grenade narrowly missed PC Reid.”

Cochrane was arrested as he made his way down the stairs from the south-east stand at the Braidwood Motor Company Stadium.

When he was cautioned and charged he replied: “I was choking so I threw them away.”

Miss Armstrong said she was not seeking a football banning order.

Alan Jackson, defending, said Cochrane accepted he could have pushed his way clear of the objects but it was “very crowded” where he was and he had acted without thinking.

He added: “In the last six years he’s been to two football matches, this being one of them.

“He’s not a follower of any particular team but this was a local junior club in a cup final and a large contingent from West Lothian attended to support their local team.

“He got involved only after the final whistle around 6pm.”

Mr Jackson said his client threw the items over the heads of other supporters, thinking the pitch was empty because the teams had returned to the changing room.

He said Cochrane, of Craig Avenue, Whitburn, West Lothian, was a first offender and very concerned that he now had a criminal conviction against him.

Fining Cochrane £360, Sheriff Douglas Kinloch told him: “These smoke grenades and flares can cause real problems at football matches.

“You have pled guilty to culpably ad recklessly and with utter disregard for the consequences picking these up and throwing them onto the pitch.

“I have to approach this on the basis that you weren’t acting as a good citizen or anything like that.

“You may have been concerned for your own position, but you gave no thought to where they would land and you could have caused further problems.

“You were also on bail at the time with a condition you shouldn’t commit any offence.”