Hitchin teenager pleads guilty to calling former Stevenage FC steward a ‘monkey’

A 17-year-old from Hitchin has pleaded guilty to racially abusing a former Stevenage FC steward. Pic

A 17-year-old from Hitchin has pleaded guilty to racially abusing a former Stevenage FC steward. Picture: DANNY LOO - Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO

A Hitchin teenager has pleaded guilty to racially abusing a former Stevenage FC steward, after he called him a ‘monkey’ and other racial slurs.

Earlier this week, St Albans Crown Court heard how the 17-year-old fan from Hitchin had attended the final game of the 2018-19 season, when this incident took place.

Prosecutor John Carmichael told the court that the fan was seen holding a flare that hit a young supporter on the head.

Stewards had intended to wait for the final whistle before throwing the fan out – who was shouting and swearing excessively according to Mr Carmichael.

In a statement, the victim said: “He looked at me and tried to stare me out. He called me a f****** n*****. The word monkey was often used.

“I had been called a monkey before. I was appalled for it to have happened again.

“To be referred to as a n***** made me feel incredibly angry.

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“It makes me feel incredibly sad that we still have these issues.”

At the end of the match, other Stevenage FC supporters pointed out the teenager as he left the Lamex Stadium and he was subsequently detained.

Mr Carmichael said the victim had not returned to Stevenage’s ground since he was abused. He said he did not feel supported by the club, but felt he had been by other members of the crowd.

In response, a club spokesman said: “Stevenage Football Club is unequivocal in its stance against racism and as such, when the incident occurred 13 months ago, the Club passed on all the necessary information to Hertfordshire police and placed an indefinite stadium ban on the supporter.

“The Club completes the EFL’s Equality Code of Practice on an annual basis which is directly linked to the protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010, which sets out key areas all EFL clubs should look to address, in order to ensure they are inclusive across all areas of their business.

“The components of this regulatory framework are implemented throughout the Club’s day to day operations and are also audited on an annual basis by the EFL, with the Club’s most recent audit being undertaken in April 2020.

“The steward in question was supplied through an external stewarding agency, whose contract concluded with the Club on the last day of the 2018/19 season when the incident occurred. The Club did not engage the agency for the 2019/20 season and have remained in contact with them to ensure all matters relating to the incident have been handled in a professional manner.”

At court, the teenage defendant pleaded guilty to a racially aggravated public order.

Defending, Richard Reynolds said: “He was young and immature and accepts his behaviour was unacceptable. He denies there were any underlying racial attitudes. The words were used to cause maximum offence.”

He said the youth, who had no previous convictions, was seeking work.

Judge Michael Kay QC told him: “What you did was outrageous, appalling and disgusting.

“It is inexcusable and unacceptable at any time.

“It is [the N-word] one of most outrageous words you can use.

“Undoubtedly it was used to cause maximum offence and you said it a number of times. People in the crowd were offended and to their credit pointed you out.

“If this behaviour is repeated or you were older I would not hesitate in sending you to prison.“

The judge made a 12-month Community Order with conditions that he carries out 200 hours’ unpaid work and abide by a four-month curfew between 8pm and 6am.

The judge also banned the youth from going to football matches for three years. He told him: “You leave this court with your head bowed in shame.”