AN IRISH footballer threatened rival fans with a corkscrew after they subjected him to abuse during a match, a court has heard.
Aidan Chaves, 26, is alleged to have threatened the away fans with the weapon in the dying moments of Sawbridgeworth’s match against Clapton FC in Essex on March 25.
The Irishman told Stevenage Magistrates Court that he reacted after he was spat on when he went to retrieve the ball for a throw-in.
The court heard that the incident followed jeers and derogatory remarks aimed at him from fans of the opposing team, including taunts about his skill as a player, his tattoos and his mother.
Chaves, of Mountmellick Road in Portlaoise, Co. Laois and formerly of London Colney in Hertfordshire, pleaded guilty to possessing an offensive weapon in a public place.
A further public order charge has been dropped.
Prosecutor Rufia Khatun referred to referee Mario Stetakovic’s match report for the Essex Senior League game as she explained the circumstances of the incident.
She told the court that in injury time, with Clapton 1-0 up, the ball went out of play for a Sawbridgeworth throw-in.
Chaves scrambled over to retrieve it with his team on the verge of defeat when he came in for abuse from Clapton fans on the touchline – including one who is said to have spat at him.
“The defendant was determined to get to the fan who had spat at him," said Ms Khatun.
Chaves then left the field of play and went to the nearby changing room where he emerged seconds later with a corkscrew.
"He ran towards the fan with his arms raised and said 'Come here you f****** c***, I'm going to cut your throat'," Ms Khatun said.
"It took at least four players to restrain him."
Chaves said he fetched the weapon to "tell them to back off and leave him alone" and that "he would never hurt anyone".
A statement read to the court by Alex Graham, defending Mr Chaves, said: "The words used against me were abusive and aggressive and made me fear for my safety."
Mr Chaves' defence argue that he brandished the blunt end of the corkscrew, which is equipped with a bottle opener.
They also allege that he did not utter the two phrases quoted by the prosecution.
Mr Graham added: "He doesn't have a knife on his person, nobody from any of the crowd has come forward to support this."
Mr Chaves was granted unconditional bail. The case has been adjourned until Thursday, August 10.