Gloucestershire

Northampton Town racist tweets: Man admits messaging players

Clarke Carlisle
Image caption Clarke Carlisle was one of two players sent the offensive tweets

A man has admitted sending racist tweets to two Northampton Town footballers.

Ben Townsend, 25, of Norwich Drive in Cheltenham, admitted two charges of sending an offensive message by a public communications network.

Cheltenham Magistrates' Court heard Townsend targeted players Adebayo Akinfenwa and Clarke Carlisle on Twitter on 7 and 8 May.

The case was adjourned for pre-sentence reports to be prepared.

Greg Gordon, prosecuting, said the players were shocked and offended by the tweets.

He told the court there were racial elements to each tweet and both players "clearly found it to be very offensive".

'Racist associations'

The labourer had 106 followers on Twitter at the time of the offence.

Townsend was arrested on 8 May in a joint operation between Gloucestershire and Northamptonshire Police.

Lisa Ellis, defending, said of her client: "He is very embarrassed and regretful for what he did."

Townsend, who has a previous conviction for criminal damage, told the court he had written letters of apology to both players.

District Judge Joti Bopa-Rai said: "He has tweeted to the two players who, I have been told, are not white.

"He has obviously targeted them and that is not behaviour that the courts are going to tolerate.

"It may have only been seen by a few people but these things, when they are in the public domain, can have the ability to snowball.

"One of the players felt strongly enough about what was said to respond. I can't blame him. The words used have racist associations."

Townsend is due to be sentenced on 4 July.

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