Man given football ban for racist abuse of Chester FC player

20/05/2014

A man who racially abused a Chester FC goalkeeper at a game has been banned from attending any football games for three years.

Matthew Sewell has also been fined and forced to pay legal costs after he was found guilty at Chester magistrates' court of racist abuse.

Sewell subjected goalkeeper Aaron Chapman to a torrent of racist abuse at the player's debut game for Chester against Halifax Town on 13 February 2014.

Sewell was with a group of Halifax Town fans who Mr Chapman claimed had all been chanting racist comments at him from behind the goal.

Sewell, 32, who's from Halifax, was spotted by a Chester FC steward who reported the incident to the police and gave evidence at the trial.

The steward told the court that she'd been shocked by the language and insults being hurled at Mr Chapman.

Sewell was arrested at the ground by a police officer on duty at the game but denied he'd done anything wrong.

Mr Chapman, who describes his ethnicity as mixed Caribbean, was on loan to Chester from Chesterfield Football Club when the incident happened .

The abuse started in the second half of the game after Chester scored, putting them in the lead.

Mr Chapman became more and more distracted and upset by the comments and the court heard it put him off his game.

In a statement afterwards, Mr Chapman told police that he'd never been subjected to this sort of abuse before and had always had a good relationship with fans.

He said he'd been shocked and disgusted at the comments.

Chester magistrates imposed a football banning order on Sewell, which means he can't go to any formal football game in England and Wales for three years.

The order also states that when his team, Halifax Town, are playing at home, he can't go within a mile of the ground for three hours before and after the game.

He also can't go within 5 miles of a stadium where Halifax Town are playing away or of a stadium where the England International squad are playing in the UK for the same time periods.

He was also fined £275, this included an extra amount for the racist element of the offence, and ordered to pay £620 costs.

Wendy Newton prosecuted the case for the Crown Prosecution Service, Mersey-Cheshire.

Newton, who's a Hate Crime specialist, said: "Aaron Chapman was playing his very first game for Chester FC - it should have been a night for excitement and celebration.

"Unfortunately, Sewell chose that occasion to subject Mr Chapman to vile, racist abuse that has no place in our society.

"He was shocked, humiliated and upset and the behaviour of Sewell shocked others at the match.

"Sewell may have fooled himself into thinking what he was doing was harmless but it wasn't. Racial harassment is a hate crime and it won't be tolerated.

"The Crown Prosecution Service is determined that this sort of behaviour is punished and we welcome the decision of the court."