Suspended jail for racist tweet fan
A football fan who caused outrage on Twitter by sending racist tweets has been given a suspended jail sentence.
Sunderland supporter Peter Copeland, 29, was rowing on the social media site with a Newcastle United fan when what started as banter turned criminal.
Copeland tweeted one comment about the Newcastle star striker Demba Ba's lips exploding during the row on January 17, and then followed it by saying "With the number of darkies in your f*****g team you should be called C**n Army."
When Copeland pleaded guilty earlier this month to two offences under the Malicious Communications Act, the court heard this was in reference to Newcastle United's Toon Army nickname.
District Judge Roger Elsey said a four month jail sentence was warranted because of the "grossly offensive" racist comments.
But the sentence was suspended for 18 months as he had pleaded guilty and "deeply regretted" his actions.
Copeland, who is awaiting sentence for burglary, must carry out 150 hours unpaid work and pay £85 costs.
The judge said: "I hope you understand you must never again use racist abuse of this nature."
Unemployed Copeland, who lives with his parents in Benridge Bank, West Rainton, Durham, claimed he was not racist during the last hearing.
Leaving court with his mother, Copeland declined to comment.