A FOOTBALL hooligan convicted of matchday violence burst into tears as he was told he wasn't going to jail – for now.

University drop-out Regan Bunker-Holmes was one of four Swindon Town fans sentenced yesterday for their part in fighting that erupted in front of shocked shoppers outside the Groves pub after the Robins clashed with Newport County FC on November 25, 2017.

Pal William Walker texted a mate after the violence, saying: "I banged someone." He added: "Me and Regan made a name for ourselves." CCTV caught Zach Surry punch a man.

The three received suspended jail sentences for violent disorder. The fourth, Luke Wheeler, was handed an 18-month community order and told to do 150 hours' community service after he admitted the lesser charge of affray. All pleaded guilty and were fined £1,000

Sentencing the men, Judge Jason Taylor QC laid into the tradition of football hooliganism, saying it should be stamped out: "The message must be that it will not be tolerated."

Describing the violence involving more than two dozen Newport and Swindon fans as pitched street violence, Judge Taylor added: "This could easily have escalated and resulted in serious injuries to the people involved, door staff and police."

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William Walker outside Swindon Crown Court

Swindon Crown Court heard tensions had been mounting throughout the day as Swindon Town took on local rivals Newport County at home.

As supporters of the Welsh side were being marched through the town centre to an away fans' pub, one of the men broke off from the group and approached Swindon fans. Police overheard him saying "20 of yours and 20 of ours". Prosecuting, Simon Jones said: "That man was clearly trying to organise a fight."

Police bodycam footage after the game caught Bunker-Holmes shouting an obscenity at a member of the public before instructing them to "come on then". By 5.30pm, tensions had flared outside the train station, with police driving a van at the crowd to break up the confrontation.

CCTV picked up Bunker-Holmes, Walker and Surry walking to the Groves pub on Fleet Street. They reached the bar at 5.37pm – two minutes before fans clashed in the pub's doorway.

Mr Jones said there had been an exodus of Newport County fans from the Sir Daniel Arms, a Wetherspoons pub. The Welsh line was met outside the Groves by their Swindon rivals.

Bunker-Holmes and William Walker were in the fighting line throwing punches. CCTV caught co-defendant Zach Surry, who has previous for football violence, pull down his hood and punch his opponent before throwing his hood back over his head and retreating to a pub doorway. Wheeler shouted threats and was restrained by police.

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Police outside the Queens Tap on the day of the disorder

Mary Cowe, for Bunker-Holmes, said her client had suffered a serious crisis of confidence after moving from home to attend university in Bath, suffering panic attacks. He had got himself involved in a drinking culture. He was remorseful and very worried about the prospect of going to prison.

Paul Jones, for Surry, acknowledged his client had a previous conviction for a football-related affray and had previously been subject to an order banning him from attending matches. But he said Surry had matured and was well thought-of by his employers and at his amateur football side.

Alejandra Tascon, for Walker, said her client had been deeply affected by the death of his brother – the anniversary of which was a day before the Newport game. "His actions on that day were entirely out of character," she said.

Alistair Haggerty, for Wheeler, described his client's behaviour on the day of the violence as an aberration.

Surry, 27, of Churchill Close, Calne, was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment suspended for two years and told to complete 225 hours' unpaid work. He was given a five year football banning order.

Bunker-Holmes, 21, of Anchor Road, Calne, received 16 months suspended for two years and must complete 200 hours' unpaid work. He was given a four year football banning order.

Walker, 21, of Hungerdown Lane, Chippenham, received 12 months imprisonment suspended for two years, 175 hours' unpaid work and a four year football banning order.

Wheeler, 24, of Beechcroft Road, Swindon, received an 18 month community order, 150 hours' unpaid work and a four year football banning order.

Reacting to the sentences, PC Dan Hatt said: "It is unfortunate that there still exists a small minority of people who will use football matches as an excuse to seek and engage in disorder with others.

"All too often this takes place in a busy public location, with no consideration for the impact that this will have on innocent football supporters and other members of the public who deserve to be able to go about their business without witnessing this kind of incident.

"This case demonstrates that we will work tirelessly and for as long as it takes, to ensure that those responsible are put before the courts and sentenced for their actions."