Manchester

Man Utd fans sentenced over 'obscene' Hillsborough banner

the banner Image copyright Liverpool Echo
Image caption Police removed the banner over the M602 motorway in Salford

Two Manchester United fans have been given community service orders over an "obscene" Hillsborough banner unfurled ahead of a game with Liverpool.

Photos of the banner - which displayed the word "murderers" and the date of the tragedy - were put on Facebook by Jay Cornforth and Ainsley Meanock.

It was hung over a bridge in Salford so Liverpool fans travelling to Old Trafford on 17 March would see it.

The two men were ordered to carry out 135 hours of unpaid work.

Cornforth, 20, of Ashton Old Road in Manchester, and Meanock, 24, of Millbank Close in Oldham, both admitted a crime under the Communications Act 2003 of sending by public communication network a message that was "grossly offensive".

Manchester and Salford Magistrates Court heard there was no evidence Cornforth or father-of-one Meanock had made or displayed the banner, which was attached to the bridge above the M602 ahead of the first leg of last season's Europa League clash.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Manchester United and Liverpool drew at Old Trafford but Liverpool won over two legs before making it all the way to the final

Cornforth appeared in court on Friday while Meanock, who has 12 previous convictions including for theft, burglary and GBH, was sentenced last week.

District Judge John Temperley told Meanock: "If there was evidence that you had put up this banner yourself, then I would undoubtedly be sentencing you to custody."

Meanock's solicitor Charlotte Johnson said: "He fully admits that what he did was a completely stupid act. He is embarrassed and full of remorse."

The men were both ordered to pay £300 costs and a £60 victim surcharge.

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