'Spectator from hell' cops ban from park

Keith Rose

A police officer described by a judge as a "spectator from hell" for grabbing the throat of a football referee has been handed a two-year ban from Christchurch's ASB Football Park.

Senior Constable Keith Rose, 59, admitted abusing a ref and assaulting an referee assistant while he was off-duty and watching his son play football.

Assistant referee Hayden McCabe was so traumatised by the incident on June 29 last year that he has not officiated a premier level game since.

Today, Mainland Football bosses confirmed that Rose has been given a two-year ban from watching his son play at the city's main football ground.

And they hope it sends a clear message to other spectators that the governing body takes a zero tolerance approach to violent conduct.

"We're trying to send a strong signal that we are going to uphold the code of conduct of the game," Mainland Football chief executive Mike Coggan said.

He said the ban, which ends March 2016, does not extend to other Christchurch City Council-run grounds, where the governing body has no jurisdiction.

A judge at Christchurch District Court last year ordered Rose to pay $1500 in emotional harm compensation to Mr McCabe.

The court was told that Rose had been sitting in the main grandstand at ASB Park to watch his son play for Western against Cashmere Technical in a premier league match.

Rose was seen and heard to make "a number of adverse comments regarding the performance of the referees during the game", the police summary of facts said.

After the match, in which his son's team lost 4-1, Rose turned to other spectators in the grandstand and said, "That ref was s***".

He moved down in front of the players' tunnel as the four match officials were walking off.

A group of supporters abused the officials as Rose told the referee: "You are a f****** disgrace".

As the officials made for their changing facilities, Mr McCabe "collided" with Rose in an action unlikely to have been deliberate, according to Judge Robert Murfitt.

Rose grabbed Mr McCabe around the front of his throat, and "held him for several seconds".

Police said at the time that Mr McCabe had suffered greatly since the assault, and when he had gone to watch football matches, he'd been subjected to ridicule from supporters.

The judge said Rose had "behaved like the spectator from hell".

Western was fined $2000 over the affair and suspended its coach Julian Morris for two games for abuse of the referee.

Today, Mr Coggan said that the assistant referee has slowly returned to officiating lower league games.

But the incident has been "very distressing" for him, with long-lasting effects.

"We'll do everything we can to get him back to the higher level, because he's got a lot of potential," Mr Coggan said

"While we're fortunate it's been a one-off incident, it has had a major impact on the game, the referee, the club, and everyone involved."

Rose, who has been in the force for 42 years, had been placed on restricted duties as he awaited the outcome of an internal police enquiry and a code of conduct meeting.

Today, a Christchurch police spokesman said the internal investigation has been completed and Rose has been "subject to disciplinary action as a result of the process''.

"He will return to full duties in due course,'' the spokesman said.
 

- By Kurt Bayer of APNZ

 

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