An Irish teenager has been spared jail after racially abusing Arsenal and England legend Ian Wright.
Patrick O’Brien, of Tralee, County Kerry, abused the BBC football pundit in private messages on Instagram last May after he lost a FIFA game on PlayStation.
The 18-year-old pleaded guilty to harassing Wright on May 11, contrary to the Non-Fatal Offences Against The Person Act 1997, and sending a message by phone that was grossly offensive, obscene and menacing.
At a sentencing hearing at Tralee District Court on Wednesday, Judge David Waters said he ‘didn’t see anything to be gained’ by imposing a criminal conviction, and handed O’Brien probation.
He noted O’Brien had shown genuine remorse for his actions, and had donated 500 euros (£440) to the Irish Network Against Racism out of his own volition.
The judge said the language used by O’Brien was reprehensible, but was the unthinking behaviour of a ‘a naïve young man’.
He added that O’Brien had written an apology to Wright, which was accepted by the former footballer who forgave his abuser.
Judge Waters said he had received a ‘very positive’ probation report on O’Brien, which said he had co-operated in full, made full and frank admissions of his guilt, and had been in non-stop contact with his probation officer and was very co-operative.
His family are law-abiding, decent people, his solicitor Patrick Mann told the court.
Mann said O’Brien was a ‘very, very good boy’ who was getting ‘great results’ at school, adding that he was ‘still a young lad’, and asked that he be allowed to go forward ‘without any stain’ on his record.