A STRABANE man has been placed on probation for two years and ordered to complete 100 hours community service for posting a series of racial insults on the Liverpool FC website.
Jason Rouslton (26) of Mount Carmel Heights, was sentence at the town’s Magistrates Court this morning (Thursday) for the offence which was committed in the early hours of January 8 last.
Roulston, who was drunk at the time, used the nickname ‘Big Andy Carroll’ to refer to certain ethnic groups as ‘scum,’ and posted that the only coloured player who would ever be accepted at the Premiership club would be John Barnes and that the then team manager, Kenny Dalgish, ‘preferred English players’.
Imposing the sentence, District Judge, Liam McNally, described the language and sentiments adopted by Roulston as ‘repulsive and repugnant’.
He said the court had to take into account the principle of trying to ensure that other people are deterred from using the internet for the purpose of peddling their racial prejudices.
“The excuses given by the defendant is that he had been drinking heavily and was highly intoxicated when he posted these messages in the early hours of the morning. He says he is not a racist and that he was only trying to wind people up,” said Judge McNally.
“It appears to me that the defendant is deluding himself. Whether sober or drunk, he held the mirror up to his face and it was the ugly imagine of a racist which stared back at him.
‘VILE RACIST WORDS’
“Having considered all the factors in the case, I have concluded that the public can be better protected by the defendant addressing the issues and reasons which have caused him to express such vile racist words and his abuse of alcohol.
“Unless he does so he will leave custody after 10 weeks with the same racist views as when entered and be just as liable to commit further offences.”
The Judicial Studies Board in NI has not, as yet, prepared any guidelines for an offence of this nature.
Judge McNally also said he had taken into account guidance of Swansea Crown Court in the case of Liam Stacey, who was imprisoned for eight weeks for posting racial comments on Twitter in relation to Fabrice Muamba at a time when Mr Muamba was afflicted by a grave illness.
The offences against Roulston came to light when independent moderators reported the messages on the morning in question. They were subsequently traced to the internet provider address and unique username and other details held by Roulston.
Earlier this year, officials from Liverpool Football Club urged the Department of Justice in the North to press ahead with charges.
A public prosecutor had earlier told Strabane Magistrates Court that the matter was reported by Merseyside Police to the PSNI, but that other users on the website at the time had opposed the sentiments expressed by Roulston and also reported him.