Robert Biggs, of Ilkeston, was given a 24-week jail sentence and a 10-year ban from attending football matches after pleading guilty to assaulting the Sheffield United captain
The Nottingham Forest fan who has been handed a 24-week jail sentence for an assault causing actual bodily harm to Sheffield United striker Billy Sharp is a dog-loving 30-year-old electrical engineer who has previously shared a 9/11 conspiracy theory and anti-Muslim, pro-Putin content on social media.
Robert Biggs, of Ilkeston, appeared in Nottingham Magistrates Court this morning after pleading guilty to ABH. In addition to the jail sentence, handed down by Judge Grace Leong, Biggs has been ordered to pay Sharp, the 36-year-old Sheffield United captain who required four stitches after being headbutted, £500 in compensation. He has also been given a ten-year football banning order.
Biggs, the court was told, earns £55,000 a year in his electrician job. The City Ground season-ticket holder has been a Forest fan since early childhood, following the team home and away.
“He followed his friends,” his solicitor Miss Rachel Gowans told the court. “His intention was to get to the tunnel where he saw three Forest players and he was focusing on them. He remembers running towards the players to the left of Billy Sharp, to where the tunnel is.
“His head has collided with the right side of the player’s cheek” but it was not “targeted on the player.” She added that “emotions were running high” but Biggs accepted that he should not have gone on to the pitch after Forest won the semi-final in a penalty shootout.
Biggs has previously posted links to controversial articles on his Facebook page that claim Vladimir Putin was going to provide evidence the September 11 attacks were an “inside job” and fake claims that the Russian president would not allow Muslims to take over the country.
In sentencing, District Judge Leong said: “The video clip proves to me that you were running towards Billy Sharp and that you dodged all the other spectators to get towards him.
“I am of the view that it was a targeted act of aggression… even if it was not premeditated. You must have seen him fall over but you did not stop to check if he was alright or whether he was seriously injured.”
“This was an extremely serious and unprovoked assault with a professional footballer standing at the side of the pitch left requiring stitches,” a CPS spokeswoman said in a statement. “Biggs has soured what should have been an incredible moment for the club and its fans. As a result of his actions, he won’t be able to enjoy seeing his club compete in the Premier League should Forest win the Championship play-off final.
“The CPS has been working alongside the police to ensure that this unacceptable act of violence has been dealt with quickly and decisively. Sporting events are occasions for the whole community to enjoy. Football banning orders are an important way to ensure those who cross the line at matches do not have the opportunity to put others at risk.”
Forest face Huddersfield Town at Wembley next weekend for a place in the Premier League.
In a statement posted on his Twitter feed on Wednesday morning, Sharp said: “One mindless idiot ruined what was an unbelievable night of football. Congratulations to Nottingham Forest on their victory and good luck in the final. As an ex Forest player I will not let one scumbag ruin my respect for the Forest fans.
“Incredibly proud to be captain of this group of Sheffield United players, they gave their all and can hold their heads up high. We will be back and go again. Thanks for all your messages and support after the incident.”