Everton fan admits racially abusing Liverpool star Mo Salah with suicide bomber image
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A disgraced Everton fan has admitted racially abusing Liverpool star Mo Salah on Twitter.
Gary Hyland left Liverpool Magistrates Court today with his tracksuit bottoms wrapped up over his face to avoid being identified.
The 32-year-old was online at 3.40am, in the early hours of Tuesday morning, when he tried to wind up Reds fans.
He tweeted: “Ha ha ha, so what if Salah is a Muslim?
“You don’t see us[Everton] praying to Allah at half time!
“It’s nothing to do with Salah.”
Hyland then circulated an image which showed the Egyptian at Chelsea in a Liverpool top, superimposed with a suicide vest with a pressure point detonator, prosecutor Sophie Leyland said.
The Waterloo man next revealed a picture of Liverpool fans praying to Allah.
Some people showed their support for Hyland’s messages, while others revealed their disgust, Ms Leyland added.
Two days later, officers attended his address, on Church Road, and arrested him for a racially aggravated public order offence.
Immediately, the Sefton man told police: “I know I’ll get charged, it was me, I can’t find my phone.”
Police told Hyland they would not leave his address without his phone, before his partner, called Jade, told them it was on the sofa, hidden under a cushion.
But the 32-year-old was taken to Wirral custody suite where he threatened to spit and kick at officers.
Hyland has 19 criminal convictions, with his most recent offence in 2014, for a different type of charge.
Today, Hyland pleaded guilty to racially aggravated public order offence and obstructing a constable in the execution of their duty.
The abuse was widely condemned by fans of both LFC and Everton Football Club.
An Everton spokesman said: “Everton condemns in the strongest terms any kind of racism.
“We have shared the material with the appropriate authorities and are looking into the matter further to understand if the Twitter user in question is known to the Club in any way.”
Ms Leyland objected to the Blues fan being granted bail, insisting he could carry out further offences, had not surrendered his mobile phone properly and should be remanded in custody for his “own protection.”
Ms Leyland said: “The tweets were very offensive and upsetting.
“His own safety would be at risk.”
Hyland has a girlfriend and a six-month-old baby, who prosecutors claimed could also be at risk from reprisals. It was also heard how Hyland has previous for committing criminal offences while on bail.
Danielle Gibbons, defending her client, said the case was one which represented “no real risk of custody.”
It had “started out as innocent and legitimate banter,” but had quickly “escalated.”
The lawyer said the Salah suicide bomber image was not one Hyland had created, but had tweeted, which had been retweeted by other people online.
She added: “This offence was on August 6, he was arrested on August 8 and there’s been no further tweets or social media comments in the interim period.
“He realises what he did was wrong and he has not engaged in further posts or tweets.
“There’s nothing to suggest he’s going to depart from that… he will not be repeating his actions.”
Ms Gibbons said her client now had no phone or computer.
She said: “What does he need protecting from?
“It was a stupid action, but there’s no real risk to him.
“He’s a private person, he’s not someone who is known within the community, he keeps himself to himself.”
She said Hyland had “not been in trouble for some time.”
And he had “shown a degree of maturity since his last offence.
Magistrate Mr Holcroft, who declined to disclose his first name, adjourned the case for probation reports.
Hyland will return to court at the end of August.
Source: Liverpool Echo