Grimsby Town will not banish racist fan from matches
A PROSECUTOR was "astounded" when it emerged that Grimsby Town would not ban a fan who admitted to racially abusing an away player – who has since signed for the club.
Karen Stevens, 40, of Rutland Street, Grimsby, admitted a racially aggravated public disorder offence on Saturday, March 3, this year.
She had previously denied the charge but changed her plea to guilty shortly before the start of a scheduled two-day trial before Grimsby magistrates.
As reported, Stevens – who wore a Grimsby Town shirt with 'Mummy Kaz' on the back at matches – made offensive racist comments to then Braintree player Aswad Thomas in March.
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He signed for Grimsby Town earlier this month.
Following the incident, stadium manager Nick Dale condemned Stevens' behaviour in a public statement saying: "We have zero tolerance for racism in any shape or form and in addition to any action taken by police, any perpetrators will be banned from our ground for life."
Stevens was charged on March 26 and has been banned from matches ever since as a condition of her bail.
However, it emerged in court that Grimsby Town officials and Aswad Thomas have since met with former season ticket holder Stevens and agreed not to pursue a match ban – although one could still be issued by the court. Defence solicitor Rebecca Perrin said: "She's keen to be able to go back to local games and the club are happy to have her back."
But prosecutor Martin Howarth said he was "astounded" at the club's change in stance.
He told the court: "The prosecution will be seeking a lifetime banning order."
He said: "It is like saying that her behaviour is okay – but it's not."
Following the court appearance, stadium manager Mr Dale said that the club did not condone Stevens' behaviour but "trusts the court to take appropriate action".
He said: "At the request of the fan and the player, we facilitated a meeting and both parties were said to be satisfied with the outcome. We considered that to be the end of the matter from the club's point of view as we must be guided by the player and will leave it to the court to determine the outcome of the case."
Presiding magistrate Alex Baxter refused Stevens' plea to have the match ban lifted, which is one of her bail conditions.
"The statement made by Mr Dale after the incident was very specific and we do not wish to remove the condition," he said.
Stevens is due to be sentenced on August 14.