A racist comment during a football match earned a teenager player an appearance at Lerwick Sheriff Court today.
Martyn Neeson, 18, of Smuggabank, Mossbank, consistently denied during a lengthy trial that he had called a player in the opposing team a “black b*****d”.
The court heard that a game of six-a-side football had been played at the Astroturf pitch in Brae on 27th September. Witnesses indicated the game became increasing bad tempered, especially after an incident in which Neeson, who was wearing a Celtic strip, admitted a foul tackle on an opponent of Asian origin wearing a Rangers top.
The victim asked what Neeson, an apprentice scaffolder, was doing, which elicited the allegedly racist comment. However Neeson, who said he is a “very dedicated” Celtic supporter, maintained he had used the words “Hun b*****d” instead. But it emerged that he had not told police what he said when giving a statement two days after the altercation.
Giving evidence, the victim said he was 100 per cent sure the word “black” had been used. “That’s what hurt me most,” he said. The victim complained to the referee, who had not heard the comment and did not take any action. Meanwhile Neeson, who has no previous convictions, denied he was racist in any way whatsoever.
With witnesses on both sides sticking to their positions, Sheriff Philip Mann said it was a classic case of credibility and reliability. He was impressed by the victim as a witness and preferred the prosecution’s position. He accepted Neeson was not racist and that all witnesses “allowed themselves to believe” they were telling the truth.
Nevertheless he found Neeson guilty but admonished him, accepting that intemperate language could have been used in the heat of the moment.