Teenager admits smoke bomb offence at Falkirk game

The smoke bomb went off during the St Miren v Falkirk game last September when John Baird scored the winner in a 3-2 victory. Picture: Michael Gillen
The smoke bomb went off during the St Miren v Falkirk game last September when John Baird scored the winner in a 3-2 victory. Picture: Michael Gillen

A schoolboy has admitted possessing a smoke bomb that went off and burned his hands during a St Mirren v Falkirk match earlier this season.

The 16-year-old, who attends a local high school and cannot be named for legal reasons, claimed he was a “patsy” and handed the device in the toilet of St Mirren’s ground in Paisley at the Championship game last September.

Paisley Sheriff Court heard today that the teen was in one of the stands in the ground when the device went off and left him needing medical attention.

Procurator fiscal depute Frank Clarke said that the incident came to light due to CCTV cameras within the ground.

A plume of blue smoke was seen rising from the stand housing the Falkirk supporters and the camera operator panned the camera round to get a better view of the incident.

Stewards within the ground then raced to the area, where one of them took the spent device from the youngster.

Clarke, prosecuting, said: “The accused appeared to have suffered burns to his hands. He was led from the stand by police. He had indeed suffered burns to both hands and was treated at the first aid room at the club.

“I’m sad to say, and it will no doubt be upsetting to his dad, and despite his young age, he was under the influence of alcohol. He could be seen on the CCTV footage either dancing or stamping - it could be stamping on the device on the ground, trying to put it out.”

Mr Clarke asked Sheriff Susan Sinclair to consider imposing a Football Banning Order on the lad, forbidding him from going to games until “he reaches an age of maturity” and said that the length of the ban could be as much as 10 years.

The details emerged after the youngster’s solicitor, Peter Galletly, struck a deal which saw him plead guilty to one charge in exchange for another being dropped.

He admitted breaking Section 20(3) of the Criminal Law Consolidation (Scotland) Act 1995 by having a smoke bomb on him in a “designated sports ground.”

A second charge that he endangered other spectators by culpably and recklessly lighting it was dropped.

The lawyer added: “His father is absolutely livid with him for getting himself in to the position he is in today. He travelled by train to the game with seven or eight others.

“They met up with other Falkirk fans and went in to the ground and went in to the gents toilet. He became the patsy and was handed this item.

“This was a 16-year-old attempting to be part of the crowd, doing something someone older suggested to him as a way of increasing his street credibility.”

He asked for leniency for his client, saying Sheriff Sinclair she could consider an absolute discharge which would mean the case would not count as a conviction against the boy and reduce the risk of his conduct affecting his employment prospects in the future.

And he said the teenager had already been punished by his parents, having his pocket money stopped, having to surrender his phone and being banned from attending any football matches since the incident.

He also said the sheriff had to consider whether a Football Banning Order was “appropriate, necessary or proportionate”, again pointing out that there was already “a parental Football Banning Order” in place.

As she deferred conviction on the youngster until August, to see how he does in his Highers, the sheriff branded his conduct “extremely stupid” and warned him he could be locked up for his antics.

She said: “These things are incredibly dangerous and, fortunately, no harm was done to anyone. You have two things to do – one is keep out of trouble.

“Two is not to go to football – I’m not making it a condition of your sentence but I’m hoping you’ll stay away. The entire range of sentencing options will be open to me.”

St Mirren went 2-0 up in the match on Saturday, September 12 last year, thanks to goals from Scott Agnew and Stephen Mallan.

But Falkirk won 3-2 thanks to a John Baird double and a Luke Leahy header.