Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Sentence delayed in race abuse case

Ex-Manchester United footballer Andy Cole was racially abused on a plane

The sentencing of two men involved in an incident when former Manchester United footballer Andy Cole was racially abused on a plane has been adjourned.

Cole, 42, was returning to the UK on a flight from Dublin to Manchester on December 29 when the incident happened.

Lee Patrick Byrne, 28, from, Blanchardstown, Dublin, and Gregory Horan, 26, of Castleknock, Dublin, were arrested on landing.

Police were first called to Manchester Airport following reports that two passengers were drunk and would not co-operate with Aer Lingus cabin crew.

Byrne pleaded guilty at Trafford Magistrates' Court in January to a racially aggravated public order offence and being drunk on an aircraft.

Horan also admitted being drunk on an aircraft.

Both were due to be sentenced today at Minshull Street Crown Court in Manchester but the hearing was adjourned.

The court today heard Byrne was "in jeopardy" of going to jail and a pre-sentence report was required for both defendants.

But as both are not UK citizens they would now look to stay to live and find a job in this country so the Probation Service can prepare reports on them.

Judge Andrew Lowcock agreed to adjourn sentencing until April 7, adding that if they were in work in the UK "that may have some bearing on the subsequent outcome".

Ex-striker Cole, from Cheshire, is now a club ambassador at Manchester United and is also involved with other black footballers in the Kick It Out campaign, which aims to stamp out abuse from the stands and in the dressing room.

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