Two men await sentence for drunken racial abuse of Andy Cole on flight

Have your say

Two men will be sentenced next month after former Manchester United footballer Andy Cole was racially abused on a plane.

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

Police were called to Manchester Airport following reports that two passengers were drunk and would not co-operate with Aer Lingus cabin crew. Lee Patrick Byrne, 28, from Dublin, and Gregory Horan, 26, of no fixed abode, were arrested on landing and appeared in court on Monday.

Byrne pleaded guilty at Trafford Magistrates’ Court to a racially aggravated public order offence and being drunk on an aircraft, the Crown Prosecution Service confirmed. Horan also admitted being drunk on an aircraft.

The defendants were bailed to appear at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court for sentencing on January 20.

Both men could be imprisoned for the offences with a maximum five-year term for being drunk on an aircraft.

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