‘Disgusted and ashamed’: Blyth man behind racist message to Brentford star Ivan Toney apologises in court
Antonio Neill of Blyth appeared in court after sending a racially abusve message to Brentford FC striker Ivan Toney.
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The man charged with sending a racially abusive message to Brentford striker Ivan Toney has said he is "disgusted and ashamed" by what he had done.
Antonio Neill, of Robert Street in Blyth, sent the message to Toney on October 14 following the London side's 2-0 win over Brighton. The striker shared a screenshot of the message on Twitter which led to an investigation from Metropolitan Police and Northumbria Police.
When appearing at Newcastle Magistrates Court on Wednesday, the 24-year-old apologised to the Premier League goalscorer for sending the racist message.
He 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."
District Judge Paul Currer acknowledged that the message was "exceptionally offensive" and its content "would place it in a category with a starting point of a medium-level community order". The case has been adjourned to March 30, after Neill has been sentenced for an unrelated, violent offence at Newcastle Crown Court.
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.”