• Daniel Boylett attacked bird of prey during Palace’s win over Charlton in 2015
• Kayla has been Palace’s mascot since 2010 and ‘seemed unhurt’ by incident
A Charlton Athletic supporter has been found guilty of trying to punch Crystal Palace’s American bald eagle mascot at a cup tie marred by crowd trouble.
A jury at Croydon crown court found Daniel Boylett, 36, of Eltham, south east London, guilty of attempted damage in the attack on Kayla, a 25-year-old bird of prey who Palace adopted as their mascot in 2010.
The jury took four hours and 22 minutes to reach all its verdicts, which stem from the ugly scenes which marred the Capital One Cup third-round tie at Selhurst Park on 23 September 2015. Charlton lost the match 4-1.
Boylett was also found guilty of violent disorder. He has been in the dock during the two-week trial alongside Colin Kitto, 49, of Eltham, Andy McConville, 48, of Rochester, Kent, Billy Cowcher, 32, of Greenwich, south east London, and Sam Donegan, 25, of Welling, Bexley, in south London, who had been charged with football violence.
Kitto was found guilty of violent disorder. Donegan was cleared of violent disorder but found guilty of an alternative charge of affray.
Kayla’s handler Chris Belsey had been walking her around the Selhurst Park pitch on his forearm when a punch was thrown from the crowd. Prosecutor Daniel Higgins previously told the court: “As he passed the stand he noticed three or four fans were shouting abuse and one of these three or four lent over the barrier and threw a punch directed at Kayla. Mr Belsey is unsure if the punch directed at the eagle had landed.”
Mr Higgins said Kayla “seemed unhurt”, but added “due to her delicate bone structure if she had been hit with force, her bones could easily break”.
Mr Higgins said there “was disorder at the match before, during and after” the game. Before the kick-off police had also spotted a “distinct group” of about five or six fans who had met at a pub in Thornton Heath, south London, before the match, according to Mr Higgins.
The first scuffles broke out as police escorted the Charlton supporters to the ground. Officers stood shoulder to shoulder as the crowd tried to push and break the police cordon to get to the rival fans. One officer suffered a cut lip after being hit by what he thought was a bottle.
After the match, Donegan ran at a police cordon wielding a large yellow cone. He ignored police shouts to stop and was subdued with a baton strike.
During his police interview, he said: “I was just annoyed, obviously. We just got battered. I just picked it up and let my anger out.”
McConville was found not guilty of violent disorder. The jury were directed to acquit Cowcher, Boylett, Kitto and McConville on a count of violent disorder due to insufficient evidence earlier this week. Not guilty verdicts were recorded.
The defendants were released on bail to be sentenced on 28 April.