A man is facing a substantial prison sentence after posting sectarian comments on a Neil Lennon hate page just hours after an explosive Old Firm clash, a court has heard.
Glasgow Sheriff Court heard that Stephen Birrell was caught during a special police operation launched to combat bigoted comments on the internet.
Birrell admitted posting the religiously prejudiced abuse on a Facebook site called Neil Lennon Should be Banned. He committed the latest ‘offence’ a few days after being released from a previous 12-month jail sentence.
Prosecutor Mark Allan told the court that a police team began investigating hate comments on the web after the touchline clash between Rangers then assistant manger Ally McCoist and Celtic manager Neil Lennon during the Old Firm match on 3 March this year.
Defence solicitor John McLaughlin said:
These postings were distasteful and abusive. However, his postings did not contain threats or incitement to violence. There was no mention on them of Neil Lennon or the manager of Celtic. It was hackneyed sectarian language.
The language he used was that of his peers growing up in Dalmarnock. He is now committed to changing his behaviour particularly since his mother is a Catholic.
Sheriff Bill Totten told Birrell: What you wrote was vile and hateful there is no place for these kind of remarks in our city or in our country. Adding that his comments could encourage impressionable people to behave in this way and were unacceptable: You should be under no doubt very real harm does result from this. A substantial custodial sentence will probably have to be imposed in this case.
Sheriff Totten deferred sentence until next month.
Update: Jailed for 8 months for Facebook insults
18th October 2011. See article from scotsman.com
Stephen Birrell, who posted sectarian comments on a Facebook page about Celtic manager Neil Lennon, has been given what is thought to be the toughest sentence for a football-related internet insult.
He was jailed for eight months for posting religious and racially-motivated comments on the social networking sit.
Sheriff Bill Totten told Birrell that the courts had to send a clear message to deter others who might be tempted to behave in this way.
One of the comments, posted a day before the Old Firm clash, read: Hope they all die. Simple. Catholic scumbags ha ha.
Two days after the match, Birrell wrote: Proud to hate Fenian tattie farmers.
Birrell was also handed a five-year football banning order at Glasgow Sheriff Court for writing the comments on a Facebook page titled Neil Lennon Should Be Banned.