Republic of Ireland news

Youth threatened with custody after ‘disgusting' racist message to footballer

 A teenager has been charged with racially abusing Aston Villa footballer Tyreik Wright on social media.
Matthew Cooper, PA

A teenager who sent an “outrageously disgusting” racist message to an Aston Villa footballer via Instagram has been sentenced to a referral order – and told that any breach will result in him being locked up.

The 17-year-old, who admitted sending an offensive message to Republic of Ireland Under-21 international Tyreik Wright, was warned to co-operate with a youth offending team or face a four-month custodial sentence.

A youth court sitting at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court was told that Wright, currently on loan at Salford City, was playing for Walsall when he received the highly offensive message in February.

Prosecutor Simon Brownsey told the hearing on Thursday that 20-year-old Wright is proud of his black Caribbean heritage and had been left sickened and sad after receiving abusive messages.

The court was told that an offensive post by another individual is still under investigation by a police force outside the West Midlands area.

Mr Brownsey said of the messages: “Language such as this is utterly abhorrent.

“This impacts black footballers as a whole and it impacts our society as a whole.”

In a statement read into the court record by Mr Brownsey, Wright said: “I immediately felt sick to my stomach at what I had read.

“I found all the messages extremely offensive. Due to the nature of the messages I had to read the messages back twice, I was in so much shock.”

The teenager, who is himself of Caribbean descent, sat with his head bowed for much of the hearing as his solicitor said the prosecution had had a “sobering” effect on him.

The youth was also ordered to pay Wright £500 in compensation, £100 in costs and a £22 victim surcharge.

Passing sentence, District Judge Shamim Qureshi noted that the boy, who is from the North East of England, has a Caribbean family background and is “capable of understanding how a victim of this feels”.

He told the teenager: “This is an outrageously disgusting offence committed by you.

“It’s not even posting a few words or one sentence, it’s a continuous stream of abuse.”

The youth had the benefit of not being named due to his age, the judge said, adding: “Because you are under 18, the law forbids publication of your name.

“Once you turn 18 there are no second chances.”

Passing a 12-month referral order requiring the teenager to work with a youth offending team, the judge told him: “If there is a breach (of the order) I will get the case back before me – I promise you I will sentence you to custody for four months.”

Explaining a separate restraining order, the judge said: “For the next 12 months, starting from today, you are not to post any comments on social media in relation to any footballer.”

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