Man who sent racial abuse online to footballer Ivan Toney apologises in court

Antonio Neill, 24, of Blyth, Northumberland, admitted sending an offensive message to the Brentford and England striker.

Ivan Toney
Ivan Toney

A man has apologised in court for racially abusing Premier League footballer Ivan Toney online, and told a district judge he is “disgusted and ashamed”.

Antonio Neill, 24, of Robert Street, Blyth, Northumberland, appeared at Newcastle Magistrates’ Court to admit a charge of sending an offensive message.

Police launched an investigation in October after the England and Brentford striker shared on his Twitter account an image of an abusive message he had received.

Officers treated the incident as a hate crime and traced the message to an address in North Shields, North Tyneside.

District Judge Paul Currer said the message, which was not read out in court, was “exceptionally offensive” and had “racial overtones”.

The district judge said he considered the matter to be “very serious” and adjourned sentencing until a separate, violent offence has been dealt with at the crown court.

After the judge told Neill to return for sentencing on March 30, the defendant said: “I’m sorry for what I said to Ivan (Toney).

“I’m disgusted and ashamed and want to become a better person.”

Earlier, Kash Khan, defending, told the court: “He is extremely remorseful, he was under the influence of a significant amount of alcohol at the time.”

Mr Khan said Neill was living away from his family at the time, bailed to an area where he did not know people, and “behaved in a way he would never dream of acting”.

The solicitor said Neill’s family had tried to extend an apology to Brentford even before the police became involved.

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