Man apologises in court for racially abusing Brentford striker Ivan Toney online

A man says he is "ashamed" of his behaviour as he apologised in court for racially abusing Brentford striker Ivan Toney on Twitter.

Antonio Neill admitted a charge of sending an offensive message at Newcastle Magistrates' Court on Wednesday.

After the judge told the 24-year-old defendant he would need to return for sentencing, Neill said he was "disgusted" and "sorry" for what he had done and wanted to "become a better person".

Police launched an investigation last October after Toney, 26, shared an image of an abusive message he had received on his Twitter account.

Officers treated the incident as a hate crime and traced the message to an address in North Shields, North Tyneside.

While the message was not read out in court, District Judge Paul Currer described it as "exceptionally offensive" and said it contained "racial overtones".

He added that he considered the matter to be "very serious" and adjourned sentencing until a separate, violent offence has been dealt with at the crown court.

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Earlier, the defence had told the magistrates' court that Neill was "extremely remorseful" and had been drinking a "significant amount" of alcohol at the time.

The court also heard he was living away from his family at the time, bailed to an area where he did not know people, and "behaved in a way he would never dream of acting".

Neill's family had tried to extend an apology to Brentford even before the police became involved.

He is due to return to court for sentencing on 30 March.