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United star Cole tells of 'disgust' at racist abuse

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 Andy Cole

Andy Cole

Andy Cole

'DRUNK' passengers on a flight who racially abused football star Andy Cole have had their sentencing delayed after gardai failed to provide details of their previous convictions.

Cole (42) was travelling on an Aer Lingus flight from Dublin to Manchester when he was subjected to the abuse.

The former Manchester United star said in a statement: "I was targeted because of the colour of my skin and I felt terrible afterwards."

He also said in the statement issued last month that he was "disgusted by their language".

Gregory Horan (26) and Lee Byrne (28), both from Dublin, were arrested by police when the aircraft touched down.

PROBLEMS

They were due to be sentenced at Manchester's Minshull Street Crown Court, but the prosecution claimed they had problems obtaining the men's previous convictions.

Lisa Boocock, prosecuting, told the court yesterday that she had tried to get the information from gardai, but without success.

She added that gardai "were not prepared to verbally disclose" details and the "earliest" date they could disclose them in writing was January 29.

Byrne, of Corduff Court, Blanchardstown, pleaded guilty to a racially aggravated public order offence and being drunk on an aircraft at Trafford Magistrates' Court last month.

Horan, of Sycamore View, Castleknock, admitted being drunk on an aircraft.

A witness statement read out on behalf of Cole during the hearing spoke of his "disgust" at the abuse he had suffered.

It read: "I was harassed by both of these males throughout the flight.

"I was disgusted by their language and by one of the individuals racially abusing me.

"I was shocked to see these two males were allowed to fly despite being clearly intoxicated.

"I will not tolerate this abuse, and hope we see a change so the next generation will not have to go through this."

Police said they were called to Manchester Airport following reports that a man had been "subjected to racial abuse while on the plane and that two passengers were drunk".

Judge Leslie Hull adjourned the case, and the men were bailed to appear for sentencing on March 3.

The court heard that each had paid €1,000 before being bailed previously.

Cole, who is now an ambassador for Manchester United, spent eight successful seasons with the Old Trafford club, winning five Premier League titles, two FA Cups and one Champions League trophy.

He suffered racial abuse during his career, and is involved with the Kick It Out anti-racism campaign alongside other prominent black footballers in England.

hnews@herald.ie


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