AN anti-paedophile campaigner has been jailed for throwing punches and kicks in a violent clash between football supporters in the city centre.
Christopher Wittwer was one of seven men sentenced at Exeter Crown Court yesterday after the group of hooligans went after Huddersfield Town supporters in May last year.
Wittwer, who set up a controversial anti-paedophile website naming convicted child sex offenders last summer, was jailed for 10 months.
Violence flared while the High Street was full of shoppers, including parents who had to shield their toddler in a push chair.
Wittwer, 35, of Oakmead, Aylesbeare; Darren Bolt, 24, of Salisbury Road, Exmouth; Neil Vooght, 35, of Hazelwood Park, Dawlish, and Neil Cartwright, 37, of Lapwing Close, Cullompton, all admitted affray.
Bolt, Vooght and Cartwright were also jailed for 10 months but the term was suspended for two years.
They were ordered to carry out 220 hours of unpaid work each.
Brendan Daniel, 24, of Leypark Road, Exeter; Mark Langdon, 20, of Austin Close, Exeter, and Joseph Foxworthy, 25, of Old Vicarage Road, Exeter, admitted public order offences. They were due to be given community orders with unpaid work.
Prosecutor Richard Crabb told the court the group were “looking for a violent confrontation” on May 8, last year, the day of a home game between Exeter City and Huddersfield Town.
He said a group of Huddersfield fans had been having a “quiet drink” in The Ship Inn, but most had left.
At 2pm, a group of 25 Exeter supporters gathered outside the pub shouting and swearing.
Some went inside but on realising the rivals had left walked up the High Street where they found a group of four Huddersfield fans.
Wittwer and Vooght were aiming punches and kicks at the rivals. They also chased them down the road. Bolt was seen throwing punches and Cartwright kicking out.
Mr Crabb said: “Members of the public were moving out of the way and some were protecting a toddler in a push chair.”
When police arrived the group fled but these defendants were identified.
Mr Crabb said the violence was “nipped in the bud by the prompt arrival of police” but had the potential to be much worse. The incident was clearly caught on CCTV.
Wittwer previously received a banning order for three years for threatening an Aldershot Town supporter in Sidwell Street, in 2004. He breached the order twice and was also convicted of an affray in a nightclub, in 2007.
The court was told that Vooght, Bolt and Daniel had no previous convictions.
Cartwright and Foxworthy both have two dissimilar previous convictions and Langdon has two public order offences on his record, from 2009.
Stephen Nunn, mitigating for Wittwer, said he admitted his guilt straight away and wanted to be sentenced back in February. He told the court that Wittwer, who has an ex-wife and child who live abroad, rarely goes out now and has not offended since the incident.
He conceded that he “had the disadvantage of having two things on his record that put him in a difficult situation.”
Mitigating for Vooght, Nigel Wraith said the offence was “completely out of character”.
For Bolt, Cartwright, Daniel, Foxworthy and Langdon, Kevin Hopper said they should get credit for their guilty pleas.
Judge Phillip Wassall told Wittwer he had a “dreadful record for football-related violence.”
They were all given football banning orders preventing them from attending games for six years.
This is Plymouth