A teenager who racially abused Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford after he missed a penalty in England’s European Championships final defeat to Italy has been sentenced to six weeks in prison.
Justin Price, 19, from Worcester, pleaded guilty to sending a grossly offensive message by a public communication network.
The Crown Prosecution Service found Price had targeted Rashford, who missed a penalty in the shootout defeat at Wembley last summer, because of the colour of his skin.
Price initially denied the charges during a police interview and he even changed his name on Twitter to avoid detection but he later confessed to using racially-charged language. Price, then 18, tweeted: ‘@SzzOGz @MarcusRashford YOU F STUPID MISSING A FREE PEN MY DEAD NAN COULD HAVE SCORED THAT’.
At Kidderminster Magistrates’ Court today, Price’s solicitor said the teenager was ‘ashamed and embarrassed’ by his actions, but that living with a single-parent mother and only working two days a week left him with a lot of time on his hands.
‘He spends a lot of time online, gaming, from his bedroom in online groups,’ the solicitor said.
‘On the night this offence took place he was with that online group, but he accepts the responsibility is his. He knows it was wrong and regretted it as soon as it was sent.’
The tweet included the N word but Price’s solicitor claimed he was ignorant to the meaning behind it, as he often hears it used in a non-racial way in rap music.
‘It wasn’t uncommon for him to hear that [in rap music] when it’s not used as a racist word,’ the solicitor said.
‘It was normalised for him – he didn’t understand the use of that word and didn’t intend it as a hate crime.’
Price’s jail time was reduced as he pleaded guilty but the judge said there was no excuse for the teenager’s actions.
‘At first you denied it, but after talking with your mum, you had second thoughts, but you must have realised the writing was on the wall because you were linked to that tweet,’ he said.
‘The electronic age has brought many benefits with social media, but unfortunately some people take the view that it’s a licence to send abusive messages, especially to high profile people while hiding behind a social media profile, saying things they’d never say in person to them.’