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Man jailed for punching police horse before Portsmouth v Southampton football match

A man who punched a police horse before a much-anticipated match between Portsmouth and Southampton football clubs has been jailed for 20 months.

Derek Jennings, aged 53 years, of Laburnum Grove, Portsmouth, was charged with violent disorder, contrary to Section 2(1) and (5) of the Public Order Act 1986, and pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing.

Today (Friday 31 July) Portsmouth Crown Court was told how he punched police horse Luna in the lead up to the Carabao Cup match between Portsmouth Football Club and Southampton Football Club on September 24 last year.

The court heard how one of the Police Commanders noticed Jennings becoming aggressive towards police officers and rival Southampton fans during the build-up to the game in Goldsmith Avenue, at the Fratton Way end.

The officer riding Luna headed towards Jennings, who clenched his fist and punched the horse in her nose and mouth.

Luna instantly shied away from the attack but Jennings swung out at Luna twice more before he turned and attempted to run away.

The court was told that Jennings ran towards a group of officers who warned him to stop, with Luna following after him.

He was quickly arrested and taken into custody.

Jennings was today handed a 20 month sentence and was given a 6 year football banning order.

Speaking after the hearing DCI John McGonigle said: “Sadly, as we anticipated, there was a minority of people who were intent on ruining this much-anticipated derby for everyone else and Jennings was one of those.

“This is why we ensured there was a significant policing operation around this match, alongside careful planning with both clubs, so that we could act quickly and stop any disruption.

“For a grown man to act in this way was deplorable, especially against an animal, who was simply there to help protect people who wanted to enjoy the game and get home safely.

“We hope this sentence sends a clear message that we will not tolerate this type of behaviour or any disorder at any public event. Action will be taken and those responsible will be investigated.”

He added: “Fortunately, Luna was uninjured and was able to remain on duty, however, we made sure she received plenty of care and attention, plus a few extra treats.

“We’d like to thank the public for the outpouring of support we received for Luna, it was very much appreciated.”

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