A man has chuckled in the dock of the court after receiving a four-year football ban having admitted wearing a football shirt at Wembley Stadium which made an offensive reference to the Hillsborough disaster.
James White, 33, of Warwickshire, pleaded guilty to displaying threatening or abusive writing likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress at Willesden Magistrates’ Court in north-west London on Monday.
The court heard he wore a Manchester United shirt with the number 97 and the words “Not Enough” on the back to the FA Cup final on June 3. Manchester City won the FA Cup at Wembley, beating local rivals United 2-1.
Ninety-seven football fans died as a result of a crush at a match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield on April 15 1989.
White was banned from all regulated football games in the UK for four years and was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay a surcharge of £400 and £85 in costs.
He smiled and chuckled after the order was made.
District judge Mark Jabbitt said: “It is hard to imagine a more … offensive reference to the 1989 Hillsborough disaster.”
The judge added that the shirt White wore bore a “hateful expression” – calling it an “abhorrent message” – and that the impact of his actions are “profound and distressing”.
After White was arrested at Wembley Stadium, the court heard he was cautioned and told police: “You haven’t even asked me what the T-shirt means.
“My grandad died aged 97 and didn’t have enough kids.”
The prosecution said White had “many” previous convictions, dating most recently to 2021, but none were football-related.
Police received a series of emails from people who saw an image of the shirt online.
The court heard how members of the public wrote that they were “absolutely devastated” and “disgusted” by it.
Diane Lynn, vice chair of Hillsborough Survivor Supporters Alliance, said it was “very personal” for people who were at Hillsborough that day and that survivors suffered with “guilt”.
“How dare he make us feel like this,” she said.
The defence told the court that White “deeply regrets” his actions and accepts he “hurt people very deeply”.
An inquest jury ruled in 2016 that the victims of Hillsborough were unlawfully killed amid a number of police errors.
Published: by Radio NewsHub