The father of a Huddersfield man jailed following football violence in France has dropped his plans for an appeal – and now doesn’t expect to see him until his release.
Chris Booth, 52, of New Mill, believes the jail term given to his son was “a political sentence.”
He said: “Everybody I have spoken to believes it’s a political sentence. If it had not been for the French wanting to do something about the troubles these lads would not have been given these sentences. A policeman said to me that in normal circumstances he would be held overnight and then released.”
Mr Booth had been hoping to appeal the two-month jail sentence handed to son Alex for throwing an object – said to be a plastic cup – during crowd trouble in Marseille last weekend.
But Mr Booth, who believes his son is innocent and didn’t throw anything, says he cannot afford to fund an appeal and has been told that it is very unlikely to succeed anyway.
He has now returned to Huddersfield after being told he cannot see his son without paperwork proving he is Alex’s dad.
“I saw a solicitor on Thursday who is going to see Alex as soon as he gets permission,” said Mr Booth.
“An appeal would be too expensive and would not come through before the sentence is finished.
“After seeing the solicitor I realised that I am not going to see Alex in jail and there’s nothing more I can do in Marseille. It’s heartbreaking.”
Mr Booth said an appeal had little chance of success. It would fail if two police officers testify that they saw Alex throwing an object.
He believes that 20-year-old Alex, a chef, had admitted in court throwing an object in the hope of getting a ‘light’ sentence or simply being deported.
“I think Alex was briefed what to say in court by the police,” Mr Booth added.
Over a week on and Mr Booth is still unsure what his son was actually charged with.
“I don’t know what the charge is,” he said. “There was a phrase used, ‘throwing a projectile.’ Alex said it was a plastic cup but the prosecutor didn’t believe him and said it was glass.”
Mr Booth says there’s still a small chance that he will see his son before his release, but he may not be able to afford the costs of travelling back to Marseille.
He has heard various stories about how long Alex may have to serve.
“The solicitor assured me that if he keeps up the good behaviour he will be out in a month and a half,” Mr Booth said. “Unofficial sources are saying he will be out in a month.
“I have also heard that he will out as soon as the football has finished.”
Despite the trauma of seeing his son jailed, Mr Booth is now a little less fearful for his son’s welfare in the Marseille prison.
“I have been told he is sharing a cell with another Huddersfield lad and they are both being looked after and are OK.
“This is a relief as in my imagination I was wondering what on earth it was like in there. My mind is at ease now.”
Mr Booth is now considering speaking to his local MP to see if pressure can be brought on the French authorities.
Mr Booth now wishes that he and his son had never set foot in Marseille.
He added: “It was his birthday treat to get into the middle of it, singing and dancing. I pulled him out a couple of times when it was getting nasty.
Watch England fans react to violence in Marseille
“In hindsight I should have read the warning signs – Marseille and Russians – and that it was more of a powder keg. I didn’t see the warning signs. Probably, we should have missed that game.”
Mr Booth is now expecting it to be a while before he is reunited with his son.
“I thinks it highly unlikely I will get to see him now until release. I have told friends to swamp him with letters. There are a few on their way to him now.”