A football fan who hurled a racial slur at a black player during a Premier League game has been banned from attending matches for a year.
Michael Squires called a player a “black c***” during the first half of Crystal Palace’s 3-0 win over Norwich at Selhurst Park on 28 December last year, Croydon Magistrates’ Court heard on Thursday.
The 57-year-old from Norfolk denied making the racist comment but was found guilty of racially aggravated harassment after a trial.
Squires was banned from attending football matches for one year and ordered to pay a £450 fine, £620 in court costs and a further £45 victim surcharge – totalling £1,115.
The court heard from two witnesses, who were stood on either side of the defendant in the fifth row of the away stand.
Lucy Wallis, who attended with her husband and two children, aged 12 and 14, told the court a man she later identified as Squires had booed as players took a knee – an anti-racism gesture – at the start of the match.
She told magistrates how, a short time later, Squires shouted the racist abuse at a player after the atmosphere in the stand “started going downhill” following a goal against the visiting team.
Mrs Wallis said: “One of the players, I can’t remember and I didn’t know at the time if it was a Norwich or Crystal Palace player, they were black and they were taking a throw-in really quite close to us, and that’s when the man on the right of me shouted a very abusive term at him.
When prosecutor Sudara Weerasena asked what the term was, Mrs Wallis said: “He shouted ‘you black c***'”.
She added she felt “disgusted” by the “abhorrent, totally unnecessary, offensive” remark and left with her family at half-time because of the atmosphere in the stand.
In a complaint Mrs Wallis made to Norwich City FC following the incident, read to the court, she said her children were so upset by the incident they did not want to go to a football match again.
While she said that she had not seen Squires make the remark and only heard it, she was “very, very certain” it came from him.
Anna Bond said she was “shocked and horrified” when she heard a man, said to have been Squires, use the same racist term. She told the court her husband then spoke to him as he “wanted to make clear to the man that he didn’t like the language and we weren’t going to tolerate it”.
Mrs Bond also said she had not seen the words come out of his mouth, but she was “convinced” it was him who said them.
The court heard how Squires was arrested the same day after security guards removed him from the ground. Upon his arrest, he told officers “I’m not a racist, I didn’t say anything”.
Giving evidence in court, Squires denied using the term and said he was unaware of any incident in the stand until he was removed.
Asked by Ms Weerasena if made the remark, he said: “I never said those words.”
However, in reaching their verdict, magistrates found Squires to be not credible and he was found guilty of racially aggravated harassment.
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