Liverpool fan banned after found guilty of racially abusing Man United fans and captain

 

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 today.

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.

It was the first game between the Premier League rivals since an eight-match ban was imposed on Liverpool striker Luis Suarez after the FA found him guilty of racially abusing Evra.

In the 23rd minute of the game, the TV camera panned over fans in the lower 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, the court heard.

One trial witness also told the court he heard Gannon say towards Evra: "Tu es petit noir homme merde" ("You little black sh*t man").

Gannon, a carpenter and joiner, repeatedly shouted "pikey", "pikey twats", "pikey bastards" and "pikey c****" at opposing fans throughout the game, the bench was told.

He also shouted: "F*** off you spastic mutants" in the direction of disabled supporters watching the game nearby, a witness said.

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.

But the 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 when he came towards the touchline.

"There is no doubt that this was a racist remark," Mr Moore said.

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.

Gannon sat about eight rows back from the pitch at the Anfield Road end of the Centenary Stand, the court heard.

The Manchester United fans were in the Anfield Road stand about 20 to 30 yards away.

John Inman, a Liverpool season ticket holder who was watching the game with his son Sam close behind Gannon, told the trial yesterday: "He was shouting abuse towards the Manchester United fans throughout the game.

"He seemed to spend more time shouting abuse than actually watching the game."

Asked to say what the abuse was, Mr Inman said: "There was a great deal of repeating 'Pikey' - 'You Pikey c****', 'You f****** Pikeys'.

Gannon told the court that at the time he was unaware "Pikey" was a racial slur against the travelling community.

Sam Inman, 20, told the court: "In the second half there was an incident where, towards the disabled fans, it was shouted 'f*** off you spastic mutants'.

"I think that shocked me more than anything else, I really don't know what to say."

David Maguire, another Liverpool season ticket holder who was sitting near Gannon during the game, told the court he asked the defendant twice to "Shut the f*** up", but was ignored.

At one stage of the game, Mr Maguire said, Evra was about 10 yards away from their seats when he heard Gannon make the offensive remarks in French.

He said: "It was bad French and words to the effect of, 'You little black s***'."

The defendant returned home to Barmouth unaware he had been recorded on television and that his image was circulating on Twitter.

Giving evidence, father-of-five Gannon said he gave up work after suffering an injury and now cares for his disabled sister full time but unpaid.

He has an unspecified "benefits conviction", the court was told.

Gannon, wearing a grey suit, said he had followed LFC since the early 1960s and usually attended around 12 games a season, adding "if I'm lucky".

Prior to the match, he had consumed one bottle of Carlsberg beer, he said.

Asked what he was doing when he was recorded on television, Gannon said: "I was shouting at the (Manchester United) fans in the corner, calling them cave men and saying, 'Get back in your cave, Neanderthals'."

David Woods, defending, said: "He (Gannon) has been a hard working family man who does not show any signs in his life of being racist."

He said he had friends who were black and that his daughter has a black partner and he has a mixed race grandchild.

PA

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