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Gun victim on Cole racism charge

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Andy Cole. Photo: PA/Martin Ricketts

Andy Cole. Photo: PA/Martin Ricketts

Andy Cole. Photo: PA/Martin Ricketts

A MAN charged with racially abusing former Man United star Andy Cole survived a gangland gun attack last year.

Dubliner Lee Patrick Byrne (28) was charged with subjecting the former footballer to racial slurs after a drunken booze-up on a flight from Dublin to Manchester.

Police arrested Mr Byrne, from Corduff Park, Blanchardstown and Gregory Horan (26) of no fixed address, after their flight landed and said both men were drunk and had failed to comply with orders from the flight's cabin staff.

The Herald can reveal that in April 2012, Mr Byrne was injured after a shotgun was fired into a house party close to his home in Dublin.

Mr Byrne was wounded by shotgun pellets, along with another man in his 20s and a 19-year-old woman. However, the trio were understood to be innocent victims in the incident which was believed to be an attack on convicted criminal David Morgan who was attending the party but was asleep upstairs when the attack occurred.

Yesterday the two appeared before magistrates in Trafford, Greater Manchester, where Mr Byrne was formally charged with a racially aggravated public order offence.

Mr Horan was charged with being drunk on an aircraft.

Andy Cole in a witness statement read to the court said: "I was targeted because of the colour of my skin and I felt terrible afterwards.

"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."

The footballer added that he was also "shocked that these two males were allowed to fly despite being clearly intoxicated".

Mr Cole said he had been a victim of racism before and "I will not tolerate this abuse and hope that we see a change so that the next generation – including my children – will not have to go through this".

SLAMMED

Last night a resident in a house in Corduff Park where Mr Byrne is believed to live, did not wish to comment when approached by the Herald.

A leading anti-racism campaign group, with which Andy Cole has been actively involved and where he worked as an ambassador, yesterday slammed any form of racial abuse.

"These are serious allegations which are now a police matter," a spokesperson for Kick It Out, football's equality and inclusion campaign, said after the two men had been charged.

"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."

It is not the first time Cole has been the target of racial abuse both on and off the pitch.

He was taunted by Juventus fans when playing against the Italian side in 1996 and, internationally with England, was subjected to abuse by Slovakia supporters during an international qualifier in 2002.


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