By Claire Hayhurst, PA
A man has been warned he faces a potential prison sentence for sending a racist tweet about Irish international footballer Michael Obafemi.
Josh Phillips (26) sent the abusive message in response to a tweet from Swansea City FC announcing that Obafemi (22) was being transferred on loan to Burnley.
Swansea Magistrates’ Court heard the tweet was deleted before Twitter blocked the account used by Phillips, for breaching the social media platform’s rules.
Police traced to the account to Phillips, from Swansea, and he was arrested and interviewed by officers.
He admitted sending the message, which contained a racial slur, on January 28th, saying he had been drunk at the time.
He later pleaded guilty to sending a message on a public communications network that was grossly offensive, indecent, obscene or menacing, contrary to the Communications Act 2003.
A victim personal statement by striker Obafemi was read to District Judge Christopher James on Friday.
The footballer said: “The racist abuse towards me is totally unacceptable.
“It doesn’t matter what I do for a job or what colour my skin is. I am a human being and don’t deserve this behaviour.
“This was extremely offensive and distressing for me, my family and friends, who all read it.
“I hope the person who made these comments learns that this racist abuse is not acceptable.
“Any kind of discrimination is totally unacceptable and I for one will not accept it.”
District Judge James told Phillips he faces a football banning order as well as a potential prison sentence.
He adjourned the case for pre-sentence reports on Phillips, who is of previous good character.
The judge told him: “I am going to adjourn your case for a pre-sentence report.
“It is clear you have pleaded guilty to what is a very serious offence of this type.
“The fact that I am adjourning for a pre-sentence report to be prepared should not be taken by you as any indication of sentence that will be imposed.
“All options are and do remain open in this case, including immediate custody.”
Swansea City is aware of disgusting racist abuse posted on social media in relation to Michael Obafemi’s loan move to Burnley. pic.twitter.com/lLGJcQsyDk
— Swansea City AFC (@SwansOfficial) January 30, 2023
The judge released Phillips on bail until his sentencing at Swansea Magistrates’ Court on March 31.
Swansea City posted a tweet condemning “vile” social media posts made after news of Obafemi’s loan move to Burnley.
The club tweeted: “Swansea City is aware of disgusting racist abuse posted on social media in relation to Michael Obafemi’s loan move to Burnley.
“The club is sickened by the vile language used in the offending posts, and is working to identify those responsible and take the strongest possible action.
“The matter has been reported to South Wales Police, who are investigating. There is no place for racism or discrimination of any kind in society or football.”