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World Cup: hooligan first to be locked up
9:03am Saturday 3rd June 2006 in News
A FOOTBALL hooligan from the North-East last night became the first person in the country to be jailed for breaching rules imposed to keep troublemakers away from the World Cup.
Police said that Paul Lupton's seven-day jail term should act as a warning to others who failed to comply with banning orders.
Lupton, 21, was jailed by Newton Aycliffe magistrates yesterday, after he admitted breaching the terms of a three-year football ban imposed in March.
All of the region's 244 known hooligans had to register with police and hand in their travel documents on Tuesday, ten days before the first match of the tournament. The UK Football Policing Unit also stipulated they must register on the morning of each of England's matches in Germany.
Although Lupton, of Rockingham Street, Darlington, does not own a passport, he failed to attend his local police station before the 10pm deadline.
Last night, 12 other fans across the region - seven in Cleveland and five in the Northumbria Police area - had still not handed in their passports, making them liable to a possible Â£5,000 fine and six-months in jail. Lupton was given the football banning order after he admitted taking part in disorder in a pub after Darlington FC's match against Carlisle, which Darlington lost 5-0.
The orders were introduced after widespread rioting in Belgium during Euro 2000, and have been described as a crucial weapon in fighting football-related violence and disorder.
Jonathan Bambro, prosecuting, said that while police accepted Lupton did not have a passport, the condition clearly stated he should attend the police station.
"The reason he did not report was that he had been drinking on the Monday and was hungover the next day," he said.
"It is not until the police went to get him this morning that he has been brought before the court."
Lupton's defence argued that while he was unwell that day, he did not believe he had to attend Darlington police station.
Lupton thought he had to register on the day of England's first World Cup match, against Paraguay, next Saturday.
Magistrate Dorothy Winter said the court had no option but to impose a custodial sentence.
Last night, a spokeswoman for Durham Police said: "The magistrates have sent out the clearest of messages to people to comply with these orders, or face the very real risk of going to prison."
Police are still searching for banned fans who have not yet been accounted for.
Cleveland Police said officers were looking for the missing seven of 99 banned fans in their area, and Northumbria Police vowed to find the five fans missing out of 96 banned.