An Inverness Caledonian Thistle fan who shouted racist remarks during the club’s first ever European tie has been banned from all football grounds in the UK.
Kevin Denholm attended the ICT match with Romanian side FC Astra on July 16 which was the club’s debut in the UEFA Cup.
With the match finely balanced at 1-0 for Astra, Denholm was heard by security staff shouting “you dirty gypsy bastards”.
Security supervisor Patrick MacLennan (23) said he had been called to the north stand by a colleague who observed Denholm’s behaviour.
He told Sheriff Gordon Fleetwood he was standing about 15 metres away from Denholm when he heard him shout the remark.
He said Denholm was at the front of a group of ICT fans and he was quite noticeable.
Questioned by depute fiscal Michelle Molley Mr MacLennan said: “I think the remark made reference to the players being gypsies.
“He was shouting. I could see his body movement as he was shouting.”
He rejected suggestions by defence solicitor Neil Wilson that Denholm might have been shouting “you dirty cheating bastards”.
Alan Gray a 21 year old student who was on security duty at the ground that night said he watched Denholm from the front of the stand and heard him making the remark.
He told the court that security staff are not allowed to go into the stand and apprehend people they feel are behaving inappropriately.
“It’s for health and safety because we would be outnumbered. We wait until they go to the toilets or the end of the game.”
He said Denholm was apprehended at the end of the match.
Both security staff said Denholm was the only person making reference to “gypsy bastards”.
Forestry worker Denholm (24) of Old Mill Road, Inverness, had denied on July 16 last year at the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium engaging in behaviour likely to incite public disorder and shouting racially abusive comments.
He told the trial he was a season ticket holder at ICT and although this was a cup tie and his season ticket wasn’t valid, he was surrounded by some of a group of people he often attends matches with.
“One of their players had faked a foul so we called him a dirty cheating bastard.”
He denied ever using the term dirty “gypsy” bastard.
“We know it’s not acceptable,” he said.
A friend of Denholm’s, Andrew Sutherland, who is also a season ticket holder claimed some fans around them were chanting “dirty gypsy bastards” but he had warned Kevin and another friend “not to get involved” because they could get into trouble.
He said it was a chant that had been used towards Ross County fans in the past and they had been well warned not to use the term and were aware of the club’s stance of zero tolerance of such conduct.
Sheriff Fleetwood told Denholm he was not satisfied that his account was truthful and he found the evidence of the security staff credible and reliable.
Finding him guilty he was told Denholm had two previous convictions for disorder at football matches and he imposed a fine of £400.
He also banned him from all grounds in the UK for a year.