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Football ban and increased sentence over racially abusive tweets

|News, Hate crime

Kerry Hardwell, 35, pleaded guilty at Worthing Magistrates’ Court to three charges of sending communications with offensive messages and one charge of sending an offensive message by a public communication network. The charges related to tweets from 2012 to 2022.

The tweets used an antisemitic offensive word to target the victim, after he originally highlighted a case of racist abuse at a Chelsea match in an online post.

Hardwell was ordered to undertake 200 hours of unpaid work, which was increased from 120 hours, because of the racial hatred element of the case.

He admitted sending the tweets, but when first spoken to by police, claimed he was unaware of the offensive nature of the language he had used, before later admitting he was now aware of the meaning of the word and regretted using it.

Sharon Lloyd from CPS South East said: “No football fan should be subjected to any form of online racist or religious abuse. This particular slur is deeply offensive to Jewish communities and has no place in our society.

“The victim reported a number of offensive tweets from this defendant that dated back more than a decade, clearly demonstrating a continued expression of hatred against a specific community over a number of years.

Douglas Mackay of the CPS added: “These antisemitic tweets were extremely upsetting and deeply offensive not only to the victim, but also to all those within and outside the Jewish community.

“Hatred of any kind has no place in society. Wherever there is sufficient evidence and in the public interest, the CPS will not hesitate to prosecute those who engage in such abhorrent and reprehensible behaviour.

“I hope this conviction and sentence sends out a clear message that such crimes will not be tolerated. If you see or experience such unacceptable discriminatory abuse, I urge you to report it to the police so that they can investigate it and help us bring the perpetrators to justice."

Notes to editors

  • Kerry Hardwell [29/02/1988] pleaded guilty on 25 July 2023 at Worthing Magistrates’ Court to one charge of sending an offensive/indecent/obscene/menacing message/matter by public communication network and three or sending a letter/communication/article conveying indecent/offensive messages.
  • He given a three-year football banning order and was ordered to undertake 200 hours of unpaid work, uplifted from 120 hours due to this being classed as a religious/racist hate crime.
  • Hate crimes are where either hostility is demonstrated at the time of the offence or where the crime is motivated ‘wholly or partly’ by hostility based on perceived religion, race, sexual orientation or disability.

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