Everton fan given football ban after admitting mocking Heysal disaster and racist abuse at derby

Joel Barwise made the gestures to taunt Liverpool fans about the Heysel stadium disaster. Credit: PA Images

A football fan has pleaded guilty to mocking a crowd disaster and shouting racist abuse at a Merseyside derby match.

Joel Barwise, 26, made pushing gestures towards Liverpool fans during the game against Everton at Anfield on 21 October last year, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said.

He was also spotted by a match steward shouting racist abuse when Liverpool player Mohamed Salah’s name was announced in the stadium.

The gestures were made to taunt the home fans about the Heysel stadium disaster, when 39 Juventus fans died in a crush before the club’s European Cup final against Liverpool in May 1985.

The incidents were reported and Merseyside Police identified Barwise committing the offences from CCTV at the game, the CPS said.

The incidents at Anfield were reported and Merseyside Police identified Barwise committing the offences from CCTV at the game, the CPS said. Credit: PA Images

Barwise, of Bentham Drive in Childwall, Liverpool, was arrested and initially said it was a case of mistaken identity, before later admitting he was responsible.

Asked why he had done it, he said: "Because I’m an idiot."

He pleaded guilty to using threatening, abusive words or behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress at Sefton Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, 13 February.

He was fined £500 and received a football banning order for three years, meaning he cannot attend football matches in the UK over that time.

When international matches are being staged abroad, Barwise must surrender his passport.

He also cannot go within a mile of any Everton match, home or away, or within a mile of Liverpool Lime Street station on matchdays, the CPS said.

Senior crown prosecutor Angela Conlan of CPS Mersey Cheshire said: "Joel Barwise no doubt thinks of himself as a loyal Everton fan, but his actions bring shame to his club.

"He made fun of a tragic football disaster in Turin in 1985 and shouted racist abuse when a key Liverpool player’s name was announced.

"Football has no place for this sort of behaviour and the majority of Everton fans would no doubt condemn his actions on that day and want to disassociate themselves from them.

"For his disgraceful behaviour, he is now banned from following his team or any other UK team for three years, has been fined and has a criminal record.

"The Crown Prosecution Service hopes this sends out a message to all football spectators that the law applies in a football ground as it does anywhere else and this sort of behaviour is criminal."

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