Football fan banned over racial abuse

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A Liverpool FC fan has been given a four-year football banning order after he was found guilty of racially abusing rival Manchester United supporters and their club captain Patrice Evra.

Phillip Gannon, 58, was seen on live television doing a racially offensive monkey impression, Liverpool Magistrates’ Court was told.

The incident happened amid a volatile atmosphere at Anfield on January 28 this year when the two sides met in an FA Cup fourth round clash, Rob Girvan, prosecuting, told the court.

In the 23rd minute of the game, the TV camera panned over fans in the Centenary Stand, where Gannon was sitting with two friends, and he was seen to position his hands under his armpits.

The coverage, broadcast worldwide by ITV, quickly spread across social networking site Twitter and complaints were made to police.

One trial witness told the court he heard Gannon make an offensive comment towards Evra, spoken in French.

Gannon, a carpenter and joiner, repeatedly shouted offensive words and expressions at opposing fans, the bench was told.

Gannon, 58, of Heol Meirion, Barmouth, north Wales, was found guilty of two counts of using abusive or insulting words within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused alarm or distress.

The court heard the offences were racially aggravated, despite Gannon’s claims that the “monkey” gesture was a reference to “cavemen” and that he never abused Evra in French.

Chairman of the bench, Ray Moore, said they deemed it to be a monkey gesture, adding that it was “clearly racist” and the bench also believed Gannon shouted a racist insult at Evra in French.

The bench imposed a four-year banning order which stops Gannon from attending Liverpool and England games and also bans him from Liverpool city centre four hours before and after a match.

Gannon was also fined a total £180 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £300.