Three-year ban for racist fan who abused player at Grimsby Town match
RACIST football fan Karen Stevens wept in court as she was given a three-year football banning order for racially abusing a player.
The 40-year-old mother-of-three, of Rutland Street, Grimsby, admitted racial aggravation in causing harassment, alarm and distress to Aswad Thomas at Grimsby Town's home match against Braintree in March.
She was also ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work in the community for the offence, which she was said to have boasted about outside the football ground.
Sentencing her at Grimsby Magistrates' Court, presiding magistrate Alex Baxter said: "The overwhelming majority of Grimsby Town fans are well-behaved.
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"We abhor all forms of racial abuse and disorder."
In court, where Stevens appeared holding a Grimsby Town handbag, Brendan Woodward, prosecuting, told how the fan directed racial abuse towards the Braintree defender in the last 10 minutes of the game.
Stevens got out of her seat in the Pontoon stand and stood behind the opposition goal, repeatedly targeting the black player.
Mr Woodward said the player, who has since signed for Grimsby Town, was shocked.
He reported the outburst to stewards and Stevens was later arrested and interviewed.
Mr Woodward said: "Abuse like that is not acceptable. We want to be able to go to sporting events with our children. We are a multi-cultural society. What example does that set?
"There were clearly people in the Pontoon who heard it and she was boasting about it later."
For Stevens, defence solicitor Nick Furman said her outburst was "just a few moments of madness".
He said: "She loves her team" and added that she supported a number of charitable causes.
The banning order stops her from attending Grimsby Town FC matches, both home and away. She must also not be within a half-mile radius of the ground on match days, three hours before kick-off and three hours after the game.
She is also banned from attending England international matches at home or away, and she must submit her passport to police when international fixtures are held.
Magistrates also imposed court costs of £750.
Following the case, Grimsby Town FC stadium manager Nick Dale said: "We are incredibly satisfied that the incident has been resolved and the club and the fans can move on from what was an isolated incident and not a true representation of the support of Grimsby Town FC."
He said club officials would have to take advice from the senior officer in the case before deciding on any club-imposed ban.
Mr Dale said Grimsby Town FC, in line with all other clubs, has zero-tolerance towards all racism and fully backed the Kick It Out campaign by the Football Association and the Professional Footballers' Association.