A football fan who racially abused one of his own team's stars jailed

A football fan who racially abused one of his own team’s players by saying he should win the ‘Baboon d’Or’ is jailed after police proved his excuse blaming predictive text on WhatsApp was IMPOSSIBLE

  • Simon Silwood, 50, sent a racist message to a WhatsApp group sarcastically called ‘Romaine Sawyers – Ballon d’Or’ 
  • Silwood said Sawyers, 29, should win the ‘baboon d’Or’ following a 5-0 defeat
  • The defendant claims he meant to write ‘buffoon d’Or’, blaming a misspelling to ‘bafoon’ before his device autocorrected
  • Silwood was found guilty of an offence under the Malicious Communications Act

A football fan who racially abused one of his own team’s players by suggesting he should win the ‘Baboon d’Or’ has been jailed for eight weeks.

Simon Silwood, 50, claimed predictive text had changed the word ‘buffoon’ to ‘baboon’ when he made the comment about West Bromwich Albion player Romaine Sawyers.

He made the racist remark in reference to the Ballon d’Or award Europe’s best footballers receive after the Baggies were beaten 5-0 by Man City on January 26. 

Simon Silwood (right) has been jailed for eight weeks at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court

The 50-year-old claimed predictive text had changed the word ‘buffoon’ to ‘baboon’ when he made a comment about West Brom player Romaine Sawyers – but police proved the mistake was not possible

Silwood later admitted being upset by the thrashing but blamed an error made by using predictive text on WhatsApp and denied being racist.

But police were able to prove the mistake was not possible and he was convicted of sending an offensive message under the Communications Act earlier this month.

On Thursday, Silwood, of Kingswinford, West Mids., was jailed and ordered to pay £500 in compensation to the Championship player.

Sentencing at Birmingham Magistrates Court, District Judge Briony Clarke told Silwood there was ‘no place for racism online’ and that he had showed little remorse.

JPs were previously told Silwood was arrested following an investigation by PC Stuart Ward – the UK’s first dedicated hate crime officer.

West Bromwich Albion had reported the message to West Midlands Police and he was traced and arrested on the same day.

The club has since banned Silwood from matches for life.

Following the case, PC Ward said: ‘Abusing anyone for the colour of their skin is disgusting and can never, ever be condoned.

‘There’s no place for racism in football or society in general.

‘Silwood is old enough to know such appalling behaviour is not only wrong, but is absolutely deplorable.

‘Sadly we’ve seen a rise in online hate crime over the last 12 months and we won’t hesitate to take action against those responsible, as this case shows.

West Brom have issued a lifetime ban to Simon Silwood (R), who was found guilty of racially abusing Romaine Sawyers in January (L) 

‘As part of my role I’m working with partners to change this unacceptable culture of abuse and this includes education around discrimination.

‘I know from personal experience how being a victim of racism hurts while offenders risk their own aspirations through getting a criminal record.

‘I would like to thank Romaine and West Bromwich Albion for their assistance during this investigation.’

Mark Johnson, of the CPS. said: ‘In the 21st Century, it should be incomprehensible how a so-called football fan can abuse a player based on race, let alone a player on the team he purports to support.

‘Silwood deliberately chose a word known to have clear racist connotations to abuse a footballer due to the colour of his skin.

‘Such behaviour will not be tolerated in football and will be prosecuted by the CPS. As this is a hate crime, we will apply for a harsher sentence to reflect that.

Sawyers, 29, said he felt ‘numb’ when he read the WhatsApp message sent by Silwood, 50  

‘I would like to thank the witness for bringing Silwood’s post to the attention of West Bromwich Albion which then reported it to the West Midlands Police.’

Elizabeth Jenkins, of the CPS, added: ‘There is no room in the game, nor elsewhere, for racism.

‘Where there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest, we will prosecute such cases and seek an increased sentenced on conviction.

‘Hate crimes such as these have a massive impact on players and their mental health.

‘The CPS takes this kind of offending very seriously and this case shows that where offensive content is reported to the police we can successfully bring offenders to justice.’ 

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