A West Bromwich Albion fan has been found guilty of racially abusing footballer Romaine Sawyers on social media by suggesting the midfielder should win the “Baboon d’Or”.
Simon Silwood posted the message on a “sarcastic” fan zone WhatsApp group titled “Romaine Sawyers – Ballon d’Or” following his team’s 5-0 defeat to Manchester City at the Hawthorns on January 26, Walsall Magistrates’ Court was told.
The 50-year-old told police his message on the group was “stupid not racial” and said autocorrect had changed the word “buffoon” to “baboon”.
On Thursday, District Judge Bryony Clarke said Silwood was “not a credible witness” – adding that the defendant meant the post to be “grossly offensive”.
The court heard that Sawyers, who is currently on loan at Stoke City and was reporting a separate alleged racist social media post when he was shown Silwood’s message, was left feeling “harassed, alarmed and distressed” after reading it.
Silwood was charged following an investigation carried out by Pc Stuart Ward, who is the UK’s first dedicated hate crime officer within a football unit.
The defendant, of Randall Close, Kingswinford, West Midlands, will be sentenced at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court on September 30.