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Ian Wright 'disappointed and tired' after Kerry student escapes criminal conviction for racist messages

The former footballer said he did not expect his forgiveness to be “an invitation to lighten a sentence”.

Image: PA

FORMER ENGLAND FOOTBALLER Ian Wright has said he is disappointed by the decision of a judge today to spare an Irish 18-year-old a criminal conviction for sending racist messages to him last year.

Patrick O’Brien, of Sycamore Court, Ashleigh Downs, Tralee, abused Wright in private messages on Instagram last May after he lost a Fifa game on the PlayStation.

He had pleaded guilty to two charges: harassing Wright on 11 May contrary to the Non-Fatal Offences Against The Person Act 1997, and sending a message by phone that was grossly offensive, obscene and menacing.

In a statement today, Wright said the case had never been about revenge, but it was about “consequences for acts of racism”.

At the sentencing hearing today at Tralee District Court, Judge David Waters noted that O’Brien had written an apology to Wright, which he had accepted and that the former footballer had forgiven the young man.

“My forgiveness of this young man was for my own deeply personal need and desire to move forward without further anguish,” Wright said.

“I’m a 57-year-old man who has experienced racism throughout my life. I wasn’t expecting my forgiveness to be an invitation to lighten a sentence. Seeing this judgement, I can only wonder what deterrent there is for anyone else who spouts this kind of vile racist abuse.

“An individual wished death upon me because of my skin colour. No judge’s claims of ‘naivety’ or ‘immaturity’ will ever be acceptable to us. The supposed immaturity and naivety of our attackers is never any comfort.

“So yeah, I am disappointed. I’m tired. We are all tired.”

patrick-obrien-court-case Source: PA

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‘Genuine remorse’

At Tralee District Court today, Judge Waters said “he didn’t see anything to be gained” by imposing a criminal conviction.

He noted O’Brien has shown genuine remorse for his actions and had donated €500 to the Irish Network Against Racism out of his own volition.

He said the language used by O’Brien was reprehensible, but were the unthinking behaviour of a naive, immature, young man.

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