Dubliner on footballer race charge was gun attack victim
A man charged with subjecting Manchester United legend Andy Cole to racially-motivated abuse on a flight from Ireland survived a gun attack last year.
Lee Patrick Byrne (28), from Corduff Park in Blanchardstown, Dublin, was charged yesterday with subjecting the footballer to racial slurs on board an Aer Lingus flight from Dublin to Manchester.
Greater Manchester Police (GMP) were called to the airport after they had received reports that Mr Byrne and another man, Gregory Horan (22), of no fixed address, were drunk and not complying with cabin crew orders.
In a statement, GMP confirmed that both men had appeared before Trafford Magistrates' Court where Mr Byrne was charged with a racially aggravated public order offence.
Mr Horan was charged with being drunk on an aircraft.
Mr Byrne was hospitalised in April 2012 after a shotgun was fired into a house party at Corduff Grove, close to his home in Dublin 15. He was wounded by shotguns pellets, along with friends Kenneth Smyth and Chantelle Brogan.
They were all innocent victims in the attack which was aimed at another man.
Andy Cole, known as Andrew Cole since leaving football, has been actively involved with Kick It Out, football's equality and inclusion campaign. Yesterday the group slammed any form of racial abuse.
"Kick It Out works across football and condemns all forms of discrimination. The campaign offers its support to Andrew Cole, who has always been a firm supporter of anti-racism causes in the game," a Kick it Out spokesman said.
Mr Cole, who played for more than a dozen English clubs in one of the most decorated careers in football history, was taunted in the past by Juventus fans when playing against the Italian side in 1996.
When playing with England, he was subjected to abuse by Slovakia supporters during a qualifier in 2002.