Abusive football fan who ripped Koran to 'make confetti' banned from games for three years

Julie Phillips said she did not know the book she was ripping was the Koran

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The Independent Online

A football fan who ripped up pages of the Koran during a match has been banned from every playing ground in England and Wales for three years.

Julie Phillips, 51, was given the ban after she tore pages out of the Islamic holy book during Middlesbrough’s away game at Birmingham City stadium St Andrew’s last December in one of her many acts of abuse, BBC News reported.

Phillips, who already has a lifetime ban from Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium, said she did not know the book she was defacing was the Koran and denied using racist or abusive language, however a Teeside Magistrates’ Court judge had said she “underplayed” her role in the incident.

The woman said in court that she was “making confetti” to throw during the game after she claimed that the book was given to her at a Christmas market beforehand, however during her trial seven months ago a Birmingham City steward John Newbould told Birmingham Magistrates’ Court that he saw several visiting fans chanting “England” while ripping up copies of the text.

She said during that trial that her friend Mark Stephenson, earlier convicted of a religiously aggravated public order offence, took the book from her bag.

“He took it off me and it was ripped and turned into confetti,” she said according to The Birmingham Mail. “Everyone else was ripping it up so I just ripped it.”


She is the first woman to receive this ban in the North East after she, and 18-year-old Middlesbrough fan Gemma Parkin, was found guilty of causing racially-aggravated harassment, alarm or distress at Birmingham Crown Court in May, as reported by The Gazette.

Chairman of the bench Gordon Sayers had told Phillips: “You ripped up the Koran and passed pages to several other supporters. Your behaviour was both offensive and insulting. You do a good job for them but you’ve let yourself down badly.”

Phillips was arrested last year during another Middlesbrough game where she allegedly racially abused a steward. The court also heard that while travelling back from another game while drunk, she was abusive towards British Transport Police officers and made threats to another group of fans while shouting and swearing at them.

James Langley, the solicitor for Cleveland Police who persuaded the court to impose the ban after the Birmingham court chose not to earlier in the year as they said they did not believe it would prevent violence at future matches, said Phillips’ case should act as a warning to other football fans.

Phillips, who has now lost her job with Middlesbrough Council, said she has supported the football team for 40 years and thought the lifetime ban from football grounds was “very harsh”.