A YORK football fan who strangled a steward at Elland Road in a “joyous celebration” has six months to save himself from jail.

But Carl Patrick O’Brien, 50, will be unable to see his beloved Leeds United in person for some years to come, even if he keeps his liberty, Leeds Crown Court heard.  

O’Brien strangled the steward after watching Leeds United beat Nottingham Forest 2 - 1 in a crucial Premier League relegation battle on April 4.

Celine Kart, prosecuting, said that as the steward was speaking to fans who were causing a problem as spectators were leaving the South Stand, O’Brien put his hand on her neck and squeezed.

He continued to do so despite the woman asking him three times to remove his hand. She eventually freed herself. He was slurring his words and has been drinking. 

Mike Walsh, for O’Brien said: “This was a defendant who was caught up in a joyous celebration. His team had just won a match in the Premier League which at that stage moved them from the relegation zone into non-relegation and Nottingham Forest were heading in the opposite direction.”

O’Brien was a long-time Leeds United fan. He had been hugging the steward who had been exchanging banter with fans during the game, said the solicitor advocate.

The clubs' positions were later reversed and Leeds United were relegated to the Championship while Nottingham Forest stayed up.

O’Brien, of Navigation Road, York, was convicted of intentionally strangling the steward at a trial at Leeds Magistrates Court and sent to Leeds Crown Court for sentence. He had denied the charge.

Two days after the strangulation, Leeds magistrates fined him £250 and ordered to pay £250 compensation to a police officer for assaulting a police emergency worker at Fulford Road Police Station.

Mr Walsh said O’Brien appeared to have a problem with people in authority.

Recorder Ayesha Smart said O’Brien was facing a jail term, but deferred sentence for six months so he could convince her the sentence should be suspended.

She imposed conditions that he doesn’t go within a mile of Elland Road when Leeds United are at home, within half a mile of Leeds Railway Station on the same days, within five miles of any stadium where Leeds United are playing away, or England is playing an international or where the England national team are playing. The restrictions last from three hours before kick-off to three hours after the relevant match finishes.

He must also pay £500 compensation to the steward.

If he breaks any of the conditions or commits any more offences during the six-month deferment, she said, he will be jailed.

The judge warned O’Brien he will be made subject to a football banning order of at least three years when he returns to court on 30 April and if the jail term is not suspended, the order will last for a minimum of six years.

Ms Kart said the steward suffered slight reddening to her throat and soreness.