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Wolves fan 'made homophobic comments and mocked disabled' at Molineux

A Wolves supporter accused of shouting homophobic abuse at a Premier League referee and making gestures “mimicking disability” has gone on trial charged with a public order offence.

Jamie Arnold court case
Jamie Arnold court case

Jamie Arnold, 31, is alleged to have used threatening words or behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress during Wolves’ home game with Manchester United on May 23 this year.

At the start of a trial at Walsall Magistrates’ Court on Monday, prosecutor Simon Brownsey said Arnold was sitting in a stand behind the goal, where social distancing was still in place after the partial lifting of Covid restrictions.

Mr Brownsey told the court the charge against Arnold “alleges homophobic hate crime and a disability hate crime”.

The prosecutor said: “This was the first time (following Covid restrictions) for many they had been to a live football match so there was a lot of interest and excitement building.

“Around the early part of the match, the referee Mike Dean blew his whistle for a foul and awarded Manchester United a free-kick.

“It’s when that happened, the Crown allege, that the defendant shouted towards the playing area... where of course Mr Dean was... and I quote ‘You f****** gay boy’.

“This was heard (by other supporters) and caused alarm and distress.

“Later in the game, at around 4.36pm, the defendant is also seen to be mimicking disability, again towards those on the playing area at Molineux.

“The Crown allege that it is this behaviour from Mr Arnold that did cause alarm and distress.”

Jamie Arnold court case
Football fan Jamie Arnold, 31, outside Walsall Magistrates’ Court (Jacob King/PA)

The district judge trying the case was told Arnold was arrested shortly before half-time after stewards were alerted to the alleged offences.

The first witness in the case, Wolves fan Mark Zammit said he had heard another supporter shout homophobic abuse at least three times, leaving him in disbelief.

Mr Zammit told the trial: “I was shocked at what I had just heard.

“I didn’t know that this sort of abuse still happened in this day and age.

“It’s not something I have heard in a very long time.

“It came across as though he was under the influence of alcohol.

“He (Arnold) didn’t seem sober.”

Another witness, lifelong Wolves fan Josh Berry, said Arnold had used two different homophobic slurs several times.

“He was constantly shouting at players.

“There were a lot of distasteful comments,” Mr Berry, who was standing two metres away, said.

Describing the gestures made by Arnold during the first half which are alleged to have constituted a disability-based hate crime, Mr Berry told the court: “I knew straight away that he was mimicking disability.

“That’s how I felt straight away, I knew that was his intention.

“He was mocking someone.

“He was trying to put a voice on, which would stereotypically mock people with a disability.”

Under cross-examination from the lawyer representing Arnold, Mr Berry rejected a request to repeat the gestures he had seen.

After CCTV showing the gestures was played to the court, Mr Berry added: “It doesn’t take a genius to calculate what he was implying.

“It was pretty obvious.”

Arnold, of The Glebe, Norton Bridge, near Stone, Staffordshire, denies a single count brought under the 1986 Public Order Act.

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