Teenager who racially abused Ian Wright online escapes criminal conviction

Jamie Spencer
Ian Wright called out the racist abuse in Instagram in 2020
Ian Wright called out the racist abuse in Instagram in 2020 / Gallo Images/Getty Images

A teenager from County Kerry in Ireland has avoided a criminal conviction over sending abusive messages on social media to Arsenal and England legend Ian Wright last year.

The 18-year-old, named as Patrick O’Brien, decided to send the private messages to Wright on Instagram after he had lost a game of FIFA on the Playstation.

Arsenal legend Wright was subjected to racism on social media
Arsenal legend Wright was subjected to racism on social media / Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Irish news outlet The Journal reports that O’Brien had pleaded guilty to two charge, one of harassment that goes against Ireland’s Non-Fatal Offences Against The Person Act of 1997, and another of sending a message by phone that was grossly offensive, obscene and menacing.

Judge David Walters said he didn’t believe that anything could be gained by imposing a conviction on the teenager, putting down the offence to the naïve and immature behaviour. It was also noted that O’Brien showed remorse and voluntary donated €500 to the Irish Network Against Racism.

Wright has since taken to Twitter to express his disappointment in charges not being made against O'Brien, stating:

"I've seen today's judgement and I'm disappointed.

"This case was never about revenge, it was always about consequences for acts of racism. My forgiveness of this young man was for my own deeply personal need and desire to move forward without further anguish. I'm a 57-year-old man that has experience racism throughout my life. I wasn't expecting my forgiveness to be an invitation to lighten a sentence.

"Seeing this judgement, I can only wonder what deterrent there is for anyone else who spouts this kind of vile racist abuse.

"An individual wished death upon me because of my skin colour. No judge's claims of 'naivety' or 'immaturity' will ever be acceptable to us. The supposed immaturity and naivety of our attackers is never any comfort.

"So yeah, I am disappointed. I'm tired. We're all tired."

Racism in football reared its ugly head yet again in the last week when a number of Manchester United players were targeted with abusive messages on social media.

Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Axel Tuanzebe were attacked online, while Chelsea’s Reece James and West Brom’s Romaine Swayers have also received vile abuse.

Ex-Manchester City defender turned top pundit Micah Richards has made a documentary for Sky TV called Tackling Racism in Football that was released last week, highlighting the abuse that still persists in football, as well as discussing deep rooted racism in society as a whole.

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