The father of the first Brit jailed following football violence in France has spoken of how a birthday trip turned to a nightmare.
Chris Booth, of New Mill, told the Examiner how son Alex spent his 20th birthday in a cell in a foreign country, unable to see his family or talk to anyone, after he was arrested for throwing a bottle at police.
Alex was jailed for two months and banned from France on Monday, insisting “I’m not a violent person”.
The duo had travelled to Marseille for the football and met up with Chris’s brother Nigel and friends.
But the trip turned sour on Friday when violence erupted.
Chris, 52, of Butterley Lane, described their terror as riot police used tear gas and fans of all nationalities became aggressive.
The father-of-two said Alex, a chef, was a “scapegoat” who wanted to be in the middle of the action but was in “the wrong place at the wrong time”.
Watch England fans react to violence in Marseille
- Lindley Infant School lollipop patrol campaign1:08
- Jason McCartney questions Jeremy Hunt in House of0:49
- Gung-ho! inflatable fun0:56
- Health meeting in Slaithwaite0:50
- Burger with a pint of liquid cheese1:12
- Mobile phones and driving: changes in the law0:41
- Appeal to trace two men after a distraction theft0:38
Chris said: “There was atrocious behaviour on all sides - some of the England fans were throwing bottles and the Russian fans behaved diabolically.
“I was keeping my eye on Alex the whole time, he wanted to be in the middle of it all but everything just went wrong.
“Police were using tear gas which is the first time we had experienced it - it was terrifying.
“I’m convinced he didn’t throw anything at all as he was with me the whole time.”
Now Chris is hoping to find a solicitor to help appeal the sentence, and will remain in France for the time being.
He described how police refused to allow him to see Alex after he was arrested, and that court officials did not let him speak to his son or explain what was going on.
“I have not been allowed any contact with my son. Neither of us speak French which has made everything twice as difficult.
“Sunday was Alex’s 20th birthday which added to the nightmare. I was running back and forth trying to talk to police and get Alex’s passport.
“He has just been made a scapegoat. When all this has finished I am worried he is going to be tarnished.
“Alex can be boisterous and have a bit of lip, but he is not a football hooligan at all.”
A second Huddersfield fan Steven Cornell, 28, a dad-to be from Waterloo, was the sixth Brit to be jailed in connection with the violence.
Cornell was jailed for two months and given a two-month ban from France.