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'You have brought shame on your club': Judge's damning remarks to Rio Ferdinand's abuser go viral

Wolverhampton Crown Court judge Rhona Campbell's damning remarks to a Wolves fan who racially abused Rio Ferdinand have gone viral and been reported across the world.

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The judge was so disgusted with Jamie Arnold's repeated race hate crimes she picked apart his personality before jailing him for six months on Friday.

Her brutal comments were reported in news outlets across the UK on Friday and then global news outlets followed suit, partly due to Rio Ferdinand's global fame as a Champions League winner.

Judge Campbell even sidestepped the Government's direction to only send violent criminals to prison (as there are too many inmates being crammed into the country's crumbling prison estate). However, Judge Campbell ensured there would be room for the 33-year-old from Stone who had a string of public order and racial harassment convictions.

She said: "I am alert to the situation of high numbers in prison currently and the challenges that are faced by those who are imprisoned, but this is an offence that is so significant in its nature that only a sentence of immediate imprisonment would do justice to the circumstances of the case."

In her soft lilting Scottish accent the judge totally took apart Arnold's character - and her comments were later handed to the press so they would be read far and wide.

News outlets in America, Nigeria, Australia and Europe reported the remarks.

She said: "You have brought shame on your city and shame on your club. Wolverhampton Wanderers do not want a racist on their terraces, they do not want you as a fan and this city does not tolerate racist behaviour in its midst.

"It was a day of real excitement as home fans were allowed back into Premiership football games for the first time, socially distanced after the arrival of the Covid pandemic. It was a day to be joyful.

"You had been lucky enough to get a ticket but your focus was not on football, it was on causing conflict and distress."

Arnold, of Norton Bridge, Stone, was caught on CCTV shouting at Mr Ferdinand and performing 'monkey' gestures at Molineux during the match against Manchester United, Rio Ferdinand's former club, in May 2021.

"I saw the footage in this case. You were a parasite to proper Wolverhampton fans on that day.

"When the players took the knee to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement, you booed. You shouted homophobic abuse at the referee. You used repeated and offensive actions towards those on the pitch which I have no doubt were meant to mock those with disabilities.

"You chanted 'there's only one John Terry' at Rio Ferdinand, it was clearly a personal attack. You were doggedly trying to get the attention of, and antagonise, a significant and successful public figure."

Jamie Arnold

She added: "It is difficult to think of a grouping in society, Mr Arnold, that you did not want to diminish on that day, apart from white, able-bodied, straight males, just like you."

In mitigation Arnold's solicitor said he "had not been given the gift of intelligence" and had been influenced in his views by his father and group of friends.

Judge Campbell said: "I reject that you did not understand the meaning of your actions - it is not the case you were spewing insults without understanding how they would wound.

"You acted not just with ignorance but with cruelty. You were malevolent. You really wanted to hurt and offend anybody who is different. It is in this context that you committed this offence against Rio Ferdinand, turning to him and making monkey gestures towards him.

"People deserve equal respect and tolerance - your behaviour was wholly unacceptable. This is not simply an offence against one isolated person. This is an offence that impacted many, just as racism offends all in the society in which it breeds.

"As Mr Ferdinand said in his victim personal statement 'the male who abused me has showed a complete lack of respect for me, my family, Wolves FC and everyone associated to football. The male needs to understand how they made me feel and most importantly take responsibility for their actions'.

"Sadly, Mr Arnold, the pre-sentence report indicates that you were still not able to fully take responsibility for your actions."

Judge Campbell could have given Arnold a community order or suspended his sentence, but she believed these had not worked in the past.

She said: "There is not a realistic prospect of rehabilitation in your case in my judgement, nor is there strong personal mitigation. Your previous sentences have encompassed a community order and a suspended sentence. You have not improved but have persisted in behaving in an anti-social manner. Your compliance with court orders is poor and this is an offence which merits immediate imprisonment."

The tradition of judges passing comments on defendants is one of the oldest in British law and many have used the opportunity to point out societal trends, cultural changes and an increase in crimes: for example, highlighting the rise in teenage stabbings.

Due to their stellar education, often the judges' comments are worthy of publication. The Lammy Report in 2017 called for all judges' sentencing comments to be published. However, due to the amount of cases this was seen as impractical.

International readers and viewers are often shocked and impressed by UK judges' language and phrases.

American podcaster James Pietragallo, who along with Jimmie Whisman presents Crime in Sports and Small Town Murder, loves reading British sentencing comments to his audience.

"What UK judges say to criminals before jailing them is just incredible. It is like a work of art, they use some words that us Americans don't understand but you can tell what they mean.

"I love when we have a British criminal on the show because of the judges' comments."