England fan handed suspended jail term over racist Facebook post

Warrington Magistrates' court
Warrington Magistrates' court

The judge said: 'This is a foul offence which has far reaching consequences not only for you but the general public.'

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A football fan who posted racist comments on social media and blamed black England players for losing to Italy in the Euro 2020 final penalty shoot-out has been given a 14-week suspended jail sentence.

Scott McCluskey, 43, posted a message as a status update on his Facebook profile shortly after England lost in the final on July 11, Warrington Magistrates’ Court heard.

McCluskey wrote: “Well it took three ethnic players to f*** it up. Unlucky England. Sack them three monkeys.”

Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho all missed their penalties and were targeted with racist abuse on social media after the game, prompting a political row about racism in both football and society.

(left to right) England's Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Bukayo Saka. Police investigating the online racial abuse of England players following the Euro 2020 final against Italy have made 11 arrests so far. .
(left to right) England's Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Bukayo Saka. Police investigating the online racial abuse of England players following the Euro 2020 final against Italy have made 11 arrests so far. .

The defendant, of Blyth Close, Runcorn, on Wednesday admitted a single charge of sending an offensive or abusive message by a public communication network. He sat in the dock, bent double, head in his hands, before he was sentenced.

He was given a 14-week jail sentence, suspended for 18 months with 30 days rehabilitation work on racism and diversity, directed by the Probation Service.

Dave Robb, defending, said McCluskey, at the age of 43, had no previous convictions but had now lost his good character.

Asking for a suspended sentence, Mr Robb added: “As a consequence of one stupid mistake, this posting, he bitterly regrets it. It may have been influenced by cannabis, that’s no excuse.

“He can’t say sorry enough. He knows he’s done wrong.”

As District Judge Nicholas Sanders passed sentence, the defendant, whose partner is also his carer, told him: “All I can say is I’m deeply ashamed.”

McCluskey sighed and looked up at the ceiling as he was told by the judge the offence merited immediate custody, but due to his lack of previous convictions, early guilty plea, his show of remorse and the prospect of rehabilitation spoken of in his probation report, he could give the defendant a second chance and suspend the jail sentence.

Judge Sanders added: “This sort of online abuse seems to have gained some sort of traction in our society and it is entirely unacceptable.

“It is something which has the capability to cause real harm not just to individuals such as the three footballers concerned but to wider society as a whole.

“This is a foul offence which has far reaching consequences not only for you but the general public.”

McCluskey was also ordered to observe a weekend curfew on Saturdays and Sundays, monitored by an electronic tag and ordered to pay £85 costs and £128 victim surcharge, to be deducted from his benefits.

Earlier Simon Green, prosecuting, told the court McCluskey’s Facebook post was met with “condemnation and outrage” and was reported by someone who had themselves been affected by racism.

McCluskey claimed he had posted the message to make people laugh, saying, “it was a joke”, and later deleted the post, but it was reported to Cheshire Police.

Mr Green said at the time of the posting “feelings were high” and there were already concerns about racist abuse online, particularly aimed at footballers.

District Judge Sanders had ordered an urgent probation report before passing sentence.

He said: “Nobody should abuse anyone for the colour of their skin, to do so against three young men, clearly doing their very best for their country, is frankly sickening.”