Law student admits race charge after 'disgusting' chanting in university halls

A law student has admitted racially aggravated harassment after mobile phone footage captured "disgusting" racist chanting at a university halls of residence.

Joe Tivnan was heard on a video which went viral in early March after it was posted on social media.

The 19-year-old had been taking part in a fellow undergraduate's birthday celebrations at Nottingham Trent University with around 20 other students between 9.30pm and midnight on March 5.

He was recorded by first-year student Rufaro Chisango as he chanted "we hate the blacks" - which distressed her enough for her to move accommodation.

Joe Tivnan
Joe Tivnan

Tivnan, of The Parklands in Erdington, Birmingham, admitted using threatening or abusive words which caused distress to Miss Chisango, at a hearing at Nottingham Magistrates' Court.

He was ordered to pay Miss Chisango £500 compensation as well as £310 in fines and costs.

On Thursday, District Judge Leo Pyle told the law student: "You went off to continue your evening and this woman was too frightened to even leave her room.

"These words were described by other students as shocking, disgusting, appalling and disgraceful.

"It was entirely understandable that she felt what was being chanted was being aimed at her."

Opening the case, prosecutor Anna Pierrepont said: "It is said that group of students were becoming intoxicated and had become rather noisy.

"(Miss Chisango) went to her door to see what was happening as she heard something similar to a football chant.

"She felt very upset and very uncomfortable. She was the only black person living on that floor. She was so distressed she messaged her mother for advice.

"He is heard chanting, 'ooh aah, f*** the blacks, ooh aah, f*** the blacks' and 'we hate the blacks'."

In a short victim impact statement read to the court by the prosecution, Miss Chisango said: "I feel very distressed by the words and behaviour used by those involved.

"The entire incident was overwhelming and offensive. Such appalling behaviour will not be tolerated."

Lauren Leigh leaves Nottingham Magistrates' Court
Lauren Leigh leaves Nottingham Magistrates' Court

Tivnan told the judge: "I wish to make an unreserved apology to anyone who has been affected by my behaviour in this case.

"It was just mutual repartee between me and a mixed-raced friend. It was still unacceptable language and I am ashamed by my behaviour.

"I am truly sorry for the distress I have caused."

Steve Ransell, defending, said: "His university place will likely be lost and his hope of a career in law has suffered irreparable damage."

The defendant's co-accused, Lauren Leigh, 19, pleaded not guilty to an offence in connection to the same incident and was granted unconditional bail until her trial on July 19.