Football fan lodges appeal over conviction for racial abuse of Romaine Sawyers

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A West Bromwich Albion fan has lodged an appeal against his conviction and sentence for racially abusing one of his own team’s players.

Simon Silwood posted a message saying Romaine Sawyers should win the “Baboon d’Or” – a reference to the Ballon d’Or trophy – following his team’s 5-0 defeat to Manchester City at the Hawthorns on January 26.

The 50-year-old was jailed for eight weeks at Walsall Magistrates’ Court last month after District Judge Briony Clarke ruled he was “not a credible witness” and had meant the post to be offensive.

During a hearing at Wolverhampton Crown Court on Friday, Silwood’s defence barrister, Abigail Nixon, urged Judge Jonathan Gosling to overturn the conviction, saying Silwood is a “simple, working-class man and very far from a criminal mastermind”.

Simon Silwood court case
Simon Silwood was jailed for eight weeks after being convicted of abusing Romaine Sawyers (Tim Keeton/PA)

Silwood told the court he was no longer a West Bromwich Albion fan “because of these proceedings” and he does not “want anything to do with West Brom”.

The defendant, who was also ordered to pay a £128 victim surcharge and a total of £1,000 in costs and compensation when he was jailed, was charged following an investigation carried out by Pc Stuart Ward, who is the UK’s first, dedicated, hate crime officer within a football unit.

Opening the case at an earlier hearing, the prosecution said their case was that the message posted by Silwood to a West Bromwich Albion Fan Zone Facebook group “was intentionally posted and was blatant racism towards black professional footballer Mr Romaine Sawyers”.

In a statement issued after Silwood was sentenced for the “grossly offensive” Facebook post, Sawyers, who is now on loan at Stoke City, encouraged fellow players to report all racial abuse to police.

Silwood, of Randall Close, Kingswinford, West Midlands, has been granted bail until a further hearing on November 5 where he will hear the result of his appeal.

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