Nottingham Forest fan jailed for assaulting Sheffield United's Billy Sharp

Robert Biggs/Billy Sharp composite
Robert Biggs admitted the attack on Sheffield United's Billy Sharp. Credit: PA

A Nottingham Forest fan who attacked Sheffield United captain Billy Sharp after the two sides met in the Championship play-off semi-final has been jailed.

Season ticket holder Robert Biggs, 30, was caught on television cameras headbutting Sharp during a pitch invasion after Forest's penalty shoot-out win at the City Ground on Tuesday, 17 May.

Sharp was standing on the sidelines when he was assaulted.

Describing the incident, prosecutor Marianne Connally told Nottingham Magistrates' Court: "A large number of fans entered the field of play. Mr Sharp hadn't directly participated in the game. He appears to be standing with his hands in his pockets.

"Mr Biggs can be seen to run along the pitch. He then headbutts Mr Sharp. The Crown's case is that this is a deliberate and senseless act of violence."

Nottingham Forest fans celebrate on the pitch after they reach the play off final Credit: PA

Sharp, whose side lost the first leg 2-1 but took the game to penalties after winning by the same score on the night, needed four stitches to a wound to his lip after the incident.

"He has not seen it coming," the prosecutor said. "There is certainly no suggestion he was goading anyone at the time.

"Mr Biggs has, to his credit, turned himself in. It's an assault on an employee, effectively in his place of work."

Biggs, who is said to earn £55,000 a year as an electrical engineer, admitted assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

Rachel Gowans, mitigating for Biggs, said he had been a Forest fan since he was five or six and had never been arrested.

The court heard Biggs had drunk "a quantity of alcohol" at a pub near the City Ground and "just followed" two friends onto the pitch.

Ms Gowans said: "He says that in effect he got carried away in the did a number of people. His sole intention was to get to the tunnel. He remembers running towards the players but to the left of Billy Sharp, looking at the crowd... and then running straight into somebody.

"He accepts that he has collided with the right side of the player's cheek. It's not targeted on the player."

But jailing him for 24 weeks, district judge Grace Leong told Biggs: "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.

"The forceful impact resulted in a very unpleasant injury to Mr Sharp.

"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 is so serious that a custodial sentence must be imposed."

Biggs did not oppose an application for a football banning order during the hearing. He was told that separate charge of illegally entering the playing surface had been dropped.

Det Insp Paul Lefford, of Nottinghamshire Police, said Biggs's attack was "an absolutely shameful end to an otherwise brilliant night of football".

"This kind of casual thuggery has no place in the game and I hope today’s sentence sends out a very clear warning to others who may be tempted to act in a similar way.

"You will be identified, you will be put before the courts and you may very well end up in prison and you will not be able to watch football for a very long time."

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