Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Man jailed for sectarian comments on Facebook

A man who used a social networking website to post sectarian comments about Catholics and Celtic supporters has been jailed for eight months.

Stephen Birrell (28), from Glasgow, was also handed a five-year football banning order at Glasgow Sheriff Court for writing the comments on a Facebook page called Neil Lennon Should Be Banned.

He admitted writing the religiously and racially motivated comments between February 28 and March 8 this year.

Sentencing him, Sheriff Bill Totten said the courts had to send “a clear message to deter others who might be tempted to behave in this way”.

One of the comments, posted a day before a Celtic v Rangers game on March 2 this year, read: “Hope they all die. Simple. Catholic scumbags ha ha.”

Two days after the match, he wrote: “Proud to hate Fenian tattie farmers.”

His lawyer, Iain McLennan, told the sheriff that Birrell had accepted what he had done but struggles to understand the severity of his actions.

He said: “He finds it difficult just to comprehend how serious what he did was. But he does accept it was wrong and gratuitously offensive.”

The sheriff told Birrell that he had escaped a longer sentence because his comments hadn't made specific threats against individuals. He also reduced Birrell's jail term because he had pleaded guilty, cutting it from 12 months to eight.

But he said he wanted to “send a clear message that right-thinking people will not allow any behaviour of this nature, or allow any place in our society for hate crimes”.

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