Punch thrown at Crystal Palace's eagle mascot Kayla, court told

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Crystal Palace's American bald eagle football mascot faced a punch by a rival fan, a court has heard.

Kayla, a 25-year-old bird of prey, was targeted by a Charlton Athletic supporter when violence broke out during a Capital One third-round tie at Selhurst Park on September 23 2015, Croydon Crown Court was told.

Charlton fan Daniel Boylett, 36, of Eltham, south east London, denies attempted criminal damage in the alleged attack on Kayla.

Boylett appeared in the dock 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 have been charged with the football violence.

Kayla's handler Chris Belsey had been walking her around the pitch on his forearm when a punch was thrown from the crowd, the jury heard.

Prosecutor Daniel Higgins said: "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.

"He pulled Kayla away slightly to keep her from any further attack and then walked away."

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".

He said there "is no dispute" Boylett threw the punch but questions may surround whether he intended worse to happen.

Boylett, Kitto and McConville each deny two counts of violent disorder. 

Cowcher and Donegan each also deny a charge of violent disorder.

The derby game, which Charlton lost 4-1,  had turned ugly before a ball had even been kicked.

Mr Higgins told the jury there "was disorder at the match before, during and after" the game.