Football fan guilty of racial abuse
A man has been found guilty of racially abusing two Premier League footballers in front of his wife, children and grandson.
Everton fan William Blything hurled the racist abuse at Queen's Park Rangers' Korean captain Park Ji-Sung and Everton forward Victor Anichebe as his team drew 1-1 at Loftus Road on October 21.
Blything, of Moss Pits Lane in Wavertree, Liverpool, denied a single count of racially-aggravated intentional harassment, alarm or distress but was found guilty at West London Magistrates' Court.
Passing verdict, District Judge Jeremy Coleman said the defendant would not face a custodial penalty when he is sentenced on February 11. He said: "If the players had heard these comments - and there is no evidence that they did - it would have caused them upset."
The 42-year-old was arrested after he was reported to stewards by two fellow Evertonians as he watched the game with his wife, 16-year-old daughter, 11-year-old son and three-year-old grandson.
Giving evidence in court, Everton fan Neil Jordan said he was "outraged" by the abuse and tweeted a picture of Blything before reporting him to stewards. Mr Jordan said he first noticed Blything as he made one of his children cry by telling him to "man up" when QPR scored a goal and later heard the defendant refer to Anichebe, who is originally from Nigeria, in a racially negative way that included swearing.
Also giving evidence, Everton fan John Murmame said he heard Blything shout a derogatory term in reference to Ji-Sung. "I go to a lot of football games but this was exceptional," he said.
District Judge Coleman said he took into account that children had witnessed the abuse. "This took place at a football match and we have a major problem as far as racist behaviour at football is concerned," he added.
Defending himself, Blything admitted he had used "foul language" but said it had not been racial in nature. Originally from Southampton, he argued that both witnesses - who were at the game separately - had described the offender as having a Liverpool accent, whereas he does not.
Speaking outside court, he said: "I have never used that kind of language in my life - never have done and never will. I was brought up in a black community and my 17-year-old daughter has a coloured boyfriend. There is something wrong with the justice system as far as I am concerned."