Fan 'punched horse in self-defence'
The man who punched a police horse as violence broke out in Newcastle after the Tyne-Wear derby has claimed the animal bolted towards him and he was acting in self-defence.
Barry Rogerson, 45, was caught on camera as he punched the horse, called Bud, in the head.
But he said he had been trying to fend off the animal after it became startled and bolted towards him.
"The horse got spooked and it just come running towards me," he told Sky Tyne and Wear. "It panicked, I panicked, and in a split second I was on the floor.
"It was coming towards me and I tried to stop it with my left hand, first by hitting its neck, then I just knocked it on the nose. Apparently there are 700 animal rights people wanting my address.
"I never had any intention of getting involved in any riots. I was going to the next bar and I was in the middle of it all. Someone let a fire-cracker off and the horse was charging towards me. I just reacted stupidly; I realised what I had done once I was on the floor with police.
"I didn't start out to do it. I was trying to get the horse away. I definitely regret it. It is my first offence and I am 45 years old."
Rogerson had his face partially covered by a Newcastle scarf as he punched the horse, but denied he had been trying to hide his identity.
"A filling dropped out and the cold air was getting in," he said. "I put my scarf up and that's it. It looks like I was hiding my face for identity but I wasn't, that's the reason."
Earlier this week, Newcastle said they would ban fans found to have been involved in the violence for life.
Rogerson said: "I'm sorry to the club and I'm sorry to my family. I love animals - I've got three dogs, a fish pond out the back and I feed foxes across the road."