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West Brom fan loses appeal against footballer racial abuse conviction


A West Bromwich Albion fan convicted of ‘despicable’ racial abuse against one of his own team’s players has had his appeal against his conviction dismissed.

Simon Silwood posted a message saying Romaine Sawyers is set to win the ‘Baboon d’Or’ – a reference to the Ballon d’Or trophy – after his side’s 5-0 loss to Manchester City at the Hawthorns on January 26.

The 50-year-old was jailed for eight weeks at Walsall Magistrates’ Court in September after a district judge ruled he was “not a credible witness” and wanted the post to be offensive .

Silwood, who had no previous convictions, then appealed his conviction and sentence.

You – and others prone to racial abuse – need to understand that good-hearted people are repelled.

Judge Jonathan Gosling

Hearing that appeal at Wolverhampton Crown Court on Friday, a judge told Silwood his version of events was “inconceivable” and – upholding the original conviction and sentence – sent him back to jail for eight weeks, minus the six days he was he had already served.

Judge Jonathan Gosling, who said Silwood’s decision to appeal was “reckless,” told him: “You – and others prone to racial abuse – must understand that right-thinking people in are pushed back.

“We enjoy freedom of speech in this country and abusing it the way we see it here requires tough penalties.

“It is only by this means that this scourge can be combated.”

He added: “The message you posted that evening was despicable – and regarded as such by anyone who had the misfortune to read it. “

West Ham player Romaine Sawyers suffered racial violence (Tim Keeton / PA)

The court heard that the three judges hearing the appeal had “without hesitation come to the conclusion that the appellant had not told us the truth”.

“(Silwood) deliberately sent the message containing the word baboon and therefore his appeal against conviction is dismissed,” Justice Gosling added.

Silwood’s central claim at trial was an “auto-correct” feature on his iPhone, which meant he had “inadvertently” posted the racial insult on a West Bromwich Albion online fan zone website, rather than his intentional remark – buffoon.

But Judge Gosling, after evaluating the evidence, said: “We reject his evidence, because we don’t believe it – that he didn’t notice the correction, sent the message and quickly went to another. site.

“It is inconceivable that he did not also visit the site afterwards to see if his comment elicited any response.”

It was a deliberate lie – he had posted a comment and he knew it

Judge Jonathan Gosling

The judge said Silwood lied, then changed his account to the police, after first telling officers “I don’t know if my phone was hacked.”

Silwood also told police, who visited his home three days after the post, “I didn’t say anything racist, I said he was playing lousy football.”

The judge observed that when the police first visited Silwood at the house, it was he who asked if they were Sawyers and brought up the fact that it was a racist comment.

Judge Gosling said: “He could not have known that when the police first spoke to him at his home, he was allegedly accused of posting a racist message.

“At that point, he would have recalled the post as a post referring to the player as a jester. “

He added: “We just didn’t think he didn’t remember at that point exactly what he had so recently put on the site, three days ago.”

The judge said: “Second, the appellant – when he was first questioned at his home about a fan zone comment about a player – said ‘it wasn’t me. “.

“It was a deliberate lie – he had posted a comment and he knew it.”

The judge said Silwood then “compounded the lie” by suggesting that his phone may have been “hacked”, adding “that he knew full well what he put in that message”.

Silwood then told police in a subsequent interview that he “didn’t think it like that …” I didn’t think it racially, “but the judge said it was” an acknowledgment on his part that at this point he had knowingly typed the word baboon ”.

Judge Gosling said Silwood’s remark should also be read “in context”, as it was preceded by an “extremely offensive corruption” of the saying, Black Lives Matter.

“The appellant’s remark was linked to the previous comment in a continuation of the racist theme,” the judge said.

The judge also said that in the “mechanics of capturing the message,” Silwood “critically” added the word “Golden” after the racial insult.

“His (phone) screen would then display the word ‘Baboon’ – whether by his own willful act or by the intervention of the autocorrect feature,” he added.

“But it follows that the word was apparent to him before he hit send.”

Silwood, of Randall Close, Kingswinford, West Midlands, was also ordered to pay appeal costs of £ 520 and compensation of £ 500 to Sawyers.

In a statement released after Silwood’s first conviction, Sawyers, now on loan at Stoke City, urged other players to report any racial abuse to police.