Glasgow & West Scotland

Celtic fan Michael Bailey avoids jail over abuse shame

Michael Bailey
Image caption Bailey has written letters of apology to those named in his posts

A Celtic fan who admitted posting racist and sectarian comments on Facebook has avoided a jail sentence after writing letters of apology.

Michael Bailey, 20, from Paisley, was caught after a police task force began reviewing internet sites after March's so-called Old Firm shame game.

He was given a community payback order and told to carry out 300 hours of community service.

Bailey was also given a football banning order for two years.

This means he cannot enter any UK football stadium while the sanction is in place.

Volatile match

At an earlier hearing, the court heard how Bailey posted sectarian comments about Rangers and their manager Walter Smith, and went on to make a racist comment about the Ibrox club's Senegalese player El Hadji Diouf between 7 and 8 March this year.

At this time, a police task force was reviewing social network sites after an increase of sectarian football-related hostility following the volatile Celtic versus Rangers Scottish Cup replay on 3 March.

As a result of the online group, police investigated further and identified that Bailey had made sectarian and racist comments on the "Neil Lennon should be banned" page and on his own Facebook page.

Bailey was detained by police on 30 April and later pleaded guilty to a charge of posting comments of a "racist and sectarian nature" on the internet between 7 and 8 March this year.

The court was told that to show his genuine remorse, Bailey had since written letters of apology to those named in his messages.

Passing sentence, Sheriff Johanna Johnston QC told Bailey: "Bigotry, sectarianism and racism have caused a lot of problems in the West of Scotland and elsewhere in the country.

"It is criminal behaviour that has led to outbursts of violence and disorder in the city."

Sheriff Johnston added: "You have taken some action to apologies to those you directly offended."

She told first offender Bailey that had he shown any signs of violence or incitement to violence she would have had "no hesitation" in sending him to prison, but after considering all of the factors he would be given an alternative to custody.

Bailey's solicitor, Stephen Bentley, said: "Mr Bailey has written individually to all of the people who are named within these postings."

He described his client as "genuinely horrified at his actions" and "remorseful".

Mr Bentley added: "I think he has simply had the shock of his life."

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