24 year old man who sent racist message to Brentford’s Ivan Toney apologises in front of court judge, reports confirm this week.
Antonio Neill sent Ivan Toney a “exceptionally offensive message” via social media. The image was later shared by the disgusted Brentford striker on Twitter.
Officers were able to trace the message back to a North Shields address after the incident was reported to them in October 2022.
Neill, of Robert Street in Blyth was arrested and brought to Newcastle Magistrates Court where he pleaded guilty for sending an offensive message.
He also apologised for his behaviour and said: “I want to say sorry about what I said to Ivan. I’m disgusted and ashamed about it. I want to become a better person.”
I wasn’t even going to post this but I woke up angry… pic.twitter.com/2MhjRO05rr
— Ivan Toney (@ivantoney24) October 15, 2022
The defendant, Antonio Neill, 24 of Blyth, Northumberland, appeared in Newcastle Magistrates Court on Wednesday admitting to, and apologising for, sending an offensive message to Ivan Toney on Instagram in October 2022.
Police launched an investigation after Toney shared the abusive message on Twitter. The incident has since been treated as a hate crime and was traced to Neill.
District Judge, Paul Currer said: “Given the aggravating feature of the racially-motivated insult, which is exceptionally offensive, I do regard it as a very serious offence.”
Scott Cowie, hate crime lead for Northumbria Police, said: “There is absolutely no place for discrimination of any kind in society – whether that’s within our communities or online.
“Hate crime in any form is totally unacceptable, and as a force, we are committed to taking appropriate action against anybody found to be spreading this type of abuse.
“We would like to thank the victim for his support and cooperation throughout this case, as well as our colleagues in the Metropolitan Police who assisted our enquiries.
“Anyone who receives online abuse or believes they have been a victim of a hate crime is asked to always report it, so it can be fully investigated.
“We’d also ask members of the public who see, read or hear any offensive, racist or homophobic language at fixtures or online to get in touch with us.”
The case has been adjourned until 30 March.
District Judge Paul Currer added: “I have read the papers. It’s an exceptionally offensive message with no context at all.
“It’s got racial overtones, which would place it in a category with a starting point of a medium-level community order. It falls squarely in those guidelines, so I will need a pre-sentence report.”
Kash Khan, defending, told the court Neill had been isolated from his family at the time and “behaved in a way he would never normally dream of acting”.
Mr Khan added: “He is extremely remorseful, he was under the influence of a significant amount of alcohol at the time.”
According to the solicitor, Neill’s family tried to contact Brentford to apologise for his behaviour before the matter was reported to police.
Neill, 24 years old, was released on unconditional bail and will next appear before the same court on March 30,
Toney was sent the racist message via social media in October shortly after Toney’s two goals in the Premier League win over Brighton.
A Brentford statement read back in October: ‘Last night, Ivan Toney was subjected to disgusting, racist abuse via a direct message received on social media.
‘We condemn this discriminatory behaviour in the strongest possible terms. An attack on one of our players is an attack on all of us.
‘Ivan will receive the full backing from the Club and from the Brentford fans who we have already seen condemning the abuse.
‘We expect strong support from the police, legal authorities and from Instagram’s parent company, Meta, to ensure that the individual involved faces the full force of the law for this despicable hate crime.’
The Premier League said via their Twitter account: “The Premier League condemns all forms of discrimination No one should have to face abuse of the kind received by Ivan Toney. It has no place in football or society. We are supporting Ivan and the club with investigations Football is for everyone #NoRoomForRacism”
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