Glasgow & West Scotland

Internet bigot Stephen Birrell facing prison term

Stephen Birrell
Image caption Stephen Birrell was told he faced a "substantial custodial sentence"

A man is facing a jail term for posting sectarian comments about Catholics and Celtic fans on a Facebook page called "Neil Lennon Should be Banned".

Stephen Birrell, 28, from Gallowgate, Glasgow, admitted posting the religiously prejudiced abuse between 28 February and 8 March this year.

Glasgow Sheriff Court heard how he was caught after a police crackdown on sectarian internet campaigns.

Sentence on Birrell was deferred and he was told to expect a prison term.

The court heard how Birrell committed the offences just days after being released earlier from a 12-month jail sentence.

Celtic abuse

Prosecutor Mark Allan told the court that a special team of officers began investigating hate comments on the internet after the so-called Old Firm "shame game" on 3 March this year.

Mr Allan said: "They came across a site called 'Neil Lennon Should Be Banned' and noted that the accused had made various comments on the Facebook page."

On 1 March, two days before the Old Firm match, Birrell posted: "Hope they (Celtic fans) all die. Simple. Catholic scumbags ha ha."

On 4 March, the day after the game, he wrote: "Proud to hate Fenian tattie farmers. Simple ha ha."

Four days later Birrell posted: "They're all ploughing the fields the dirty scumbags."

He also posted abuse directed at the Pope.

The court was told that the police traced Birrell to his then home in Dalmarnock on 23 April.

Deferring sentence for background reports, Sheriff Bill Totten told Birrell: "What you wrote was vile and hateful there is no place for these kind of remarks in our city or in our country."

Sheriff Totten told Birrell that his comments could encourage impressionable people to behave in this way and were unacceptable.

He added: "You should be under no doubt very real harm does result from this. A substantial custodial sentence will probably have to be imposed in this case."

The sheriff will also consider whether to ban Birrell from attending football matches.

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