Man convicted over racially abusing footballer on Facebook
A man has been convicted of racially abusing footballer Romaine Sawyers online after the culprit was quickly tracked down by our dedicated football hate crime officer.
PC Stuart Ward launched an immediate investigation after being alerted to the offensive post from Simon Silwood in January this year.
The unacceptable comment was reported to us by the player's club - West Bromwich Albion - who PC Ward promptly worked alongside to try and identify Silwood through their database.
It led to 50-year-old Silwood being traced and arrested at his home the same day as the racist posting on Facebook was brought to our attention.
He was convicted of sending an offensive message under section 127 of the Communications Act following a trial at Walsall Magistrates Court today (9 September).
Silwood, of Randall Close, Kingswinford, will be sentenced at Birmingham Magistrates Court on 30 September. He has already been given a lifetime ban by West Bromwich Albion following the conviction.
PC Ward had only been in post as the UK’s first dedicated hate crime officer within a football unit for a matter of weeks when the offence occurred.
He said: "Abusing anyone for the colour of their skin is disgusting and can never, ever be condoned. There’s no place for racism in football or society in general.
"Silwood is old enough to know such appalling behaviour is not only wrong, but is absolutely deplorable.
"Sadly we’ve seen a rise in online hate crime over the last 12 months and we won’t hesitate to take action against those responsible, as this case shows.
"As part of my role I’m working with partners to change this unacceptable culture of abuse and this includes education around discrimination.
"I know from personal experience how being a victim of racism hurts while offenders risk their own aspirations through getting a criminal record.
"I would like to thank Romaine and West Bromwich Albion for their assistance during this investigation."
Anyone who has been a victim of a football-related hate crime, or has information about an offence, needs to make a formal report via the Live Chat service on our website or by calling 101.