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Crystal Palace
By ESPN Staff

Celtic pitch inavder handed community service

A football fan was today ordered to carry out 120 hours of community service for a pitch invasion which marred Celtic's Champions League victory over AC Milan.

Robert McHendry, 27, ran on to the pitch and confronted visiting goalkeeper Dida as Celtic celebrated a last-minute winning goal against Milan in Glasgow last month.

Today at Glasgow Sheriff Court he was ordered to carry out 120 hours of community service.

He earlier admitted causing a breach of the peace at the October 3 match, saying he was 'carried away' by the goal.

Sentencing, Sheriff Craig Scott said: 'The circumstances of this offence mean that serious consideration must be given to a sentence of imprisonment.

'However I am satisfied that in your particular case there's a direct alternative to imprisonment in the form of community service.'

He added the order would have been for 180 hours had McHendry not pleaded guilty at an early stage.

Defence lawyer Raymond McIlwham, said his client recognised that the pitch invasion had the potential to set off a 'full-scale disturbance'.

'Mr McHendry accepts as do I the consequences could have been greater in respect of both Celtic Football Club and also in respect of other persons.'

He went on: 'The context of this offence is the realisation as far as Mr McHendry is concerned that his team had beaten the European Champions.

'Whilst that in no way excuses the action, this is not an offence that occurred against a background of rivalry or tribalism.

'It was a euphoric moment for someone who perhaps the fortunes of his football team may have had too greater significance in his life.'

He added: 'This was thoughtless behaviour rather than calculated and malicious.'

And he said McHendry recognised such actions 'must be discouraged at all costs'.

The incident happened as Celtic fans celebrated the last-minute goal from Scott McDonald.

Single father McHendry ran up to Milan goalkeeper Dida, and made slight contact with the player before disappearing back into the crowd.

After briefly chasing after the fan, the Brazilian collapsed theatrically to the ground before being stretchered off with an icepack against his face.

McHendry, of Cambuslang near Glasgow, handed himself in to police the following day and went on to admit the breach of the peace charge.

The Glasgow court heard that McHendry told police: 'I was running over to celebrate with the team. As I was running by I tapped the keeper of AC Milan on the shoulder.

'I said, 'unlucky, Dida' and continued running towards the team.'

The labourer was handed a life ban by Celtic for his actions, and also publicly branded a 'balloon' by First Minister Alex Salmond.

Celtic were fined £25,000 by UEFA as a result of the security breach, although half of this was suspended for two years.

The club will have to pay the rest if they offend again.

Dida was found guilty of unsporting behaviour during the incident and has been banned for one Champions League match.