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Man arrested after smoke bomb thrown at Gillingham match

By Chris Hunter

A man was arrested after fireworks were thrown onto the pitch at Gillingham’s home game on Saturday as extra police officers were brought in following the London terror attack.

The Gills beat Charlton Athletic 1-0 but the atmosphere was marred when several flares were thrown towards the end of the game, which was watched by more than 7,000 people.

Brogue Stevens, 20, of Cobham Chase, Faversham, has been charged with throwing a missile – a yellow smoke grenade – onto the playing area of a designated football match, and possession of an offensive weapon, a knuckleduster, in a public place.

HOLY SMOKE! Tomas Holy throws a smoke bomb off the pitch. Gillingham FC, Priestfield Stadium, Redfern Avenue, Gillingham, Kent.

HOLY SMOKE! Tomas Holy throws a smoke bomb off the pitch. Gillingham FC, Priestfield Stadium, Redfern Avenue, Gillingham, Kent.

He has been bailed to appear before magistrates on October 10.

Kent Police’s football unit tweeted after the match: “A person was arrested @TheGillsFC fixture today in connection with throwing fireworks onto the pitch during the second half.”

Witnesses said three flares were thrown from an area where away fans were standing.

The game was halted briefly while the smoke cleared.

Police had advised fans to be vigilant and allow extra time to get into stadiums, including Priestfield, due to security checks.

The advice followed the decision to increase the national threat level to critical in the wake of Friday’s attack on a London Tube train, which left dozens injured.

It also followed the arrest of an 18-year-old man on suspicion of terrorism, in Dover on Saturday.

A 21-year-old man was arrested in Hounslow, west London, on Saturday night.

Kent Police tweeted: “Extra officers will be deployed to fixtures @TheGillsFC @EUFCofficial @DoverAthletic today. Allow extra time for security checks on entry.”

Ch Supt Nicola Faulconbridge said: “There is nothing to suggest there is a specific threat to Kent at this time and our thoughts remain with all those affected by the events in Parsons Green.

“All calls to Kent Police are assessed based on threat, harm, risk and vulnerability and will continue to be resourced and responded to on this basis.”

Police are liaising with the Home Office to regularly assess the national threat levels and what that means for the county.

Ch Supt Faulconbridge added: “There are additional patrols, both armed and unarmed, across Kent which will remain for as long as we believe is necessary.

“Members of the public are urged to carry on their normal business and routines but we ask them to remain vigilant.

“These events are rare in Kent. Should anyone ever find themselves in an incident like this, our advice is to run to a place of safety, hide and then call us on 999 when it is safe to do so.”

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