A teenager from County Kerry in Ireland has avoided a criminal conviction for sending abusive social media messages to Arsenal and England legend Ian Wright last year.
The 18-year-old, named Patrick O’Brien, decided to send Wright the private messages on Instagram after losing a FIFA game on Playstation.
Irish newspaper The Journal reports that O’Brien pleaded guilty to two counts, one of harassment which contravenes the Irish Non-Fatal Crimes Against the Person Act of 1997, and the another of sending a message over the phone that was grossly offensive, obscene and threatening.
Judge David Walters said he did not believe that there was anything to be gained by imposing a conviction on the teenager, attributing the offense to naive and immature behavior. It was also noted that O’Brien showed remorse and made a voluntary donation of € 500 to the Irish Network Against Racism.
Wright has since taken to Twitter to express his disappointment at the lack of charges against O’Brien, saying:
“I saw the judgment today and I am disappointed.
“This case has never been about revenge, it has always been about the consequences of acts of racism. My forgiveness to this young man was for my deeply personal need and desire to move forward without further anguish. I am a 57 year old male. who has experienced racism throughout my life, I didn’t expect my forgiveness to be an invitation to lighten up a sentence.
“Seeing this judgment, I can only wonder what deterrent effect exists for anyone who throws out this kind of vile racist abuse.
“An individual wished death on me because of the color of my skin. Claims of a judge’s “naivety” or “immaturity” will never be acceptable to us. The supposed immaturity and naivety of our attackers is never a comfort.
“So yes, I am disappointed. I am tired. We are all tired. ”
Racism in football once again reared its ugly head last week, when a number of Manchester United players were targeted with abusive social media posts.
Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Axel Tuanzebe were attacked online, while Chelsea’s Reece James and West Brom’s Romaine Swayers also suffered vile abuse.
Former Manchester City defender turned expert Micah Richards made a documentary for Sky TV called Fighting racism in football which was published last week, highlighting the abuses that persist in football, as well as discussing the deeply rooted racism in society as a whole.
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