A Sheffield Wednesday fan who mocked the death of young mascot Bradley Lowery during a match against Sunderland has been spared jail.
Dale Houghton has been given a 12-week prison sentence suspended for 18 months at Sheffield Magistrates Court.
The football yob mocked Bradley – who died from neuroblastoma in 2017 – by holding up an image of him while laughing in a bid to goad Sunderland fans.
Houghton, 32, previously pleaded guilty to a public order offence after sparking widespread fury with his sickening stunt.
He was sacked from his job as a window fitter as a result of his behaviour and has been kicked off his local football team, Joker Wickersley Youth CC, and the cricket team, Wickersley Old Village Cricket Club.
Bradley captured the hearts of the nation and was best friends with footballer Jermain Defoe, who paid tribute to his ‘inspirational’ young friend after the incident, adding: ‘We love and miss you Brad. Love, your best friend forever.’
The six-year-old even became Sunderland’s mascot and managed to raise £1million through his charity in his short life.
The actions of Dale Houghton (left) who mocked the death of mascot Bradley Lowery during a match against his favourite team were ‘utterly deplorable’, a judge has previously said
Dale Houghton arriving at Sheffield Magistrates Court today to be sentenced
Sunderland mascot Bradley died in 2017 after he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called neuroblastoma when he was just 18 months old
Sheffield Wednesday fan Houghton was pictured grinning as he waved the image of Bradley on his phone towards Sunderland fans during a match at Hillsborough in September.
He previously admitted intentionally causing harassment, alarm or distress in October at Sheffield Magistrates’ Court.
Today he was given 12 week jailed term, suspended for 18 months and received a five-year football banning order. He must also complete 200 hours of unpaid work.
Following the previous hearing, he was bundled out of court with his hood pulled over his face after a judge branded his actions ‘utterly deplorable’.
But today, he was pictured walking into court and told reporters he was ‘extremely sorry’ for his actions.
Magistrates heard that Houghton, who tested positive for cocaine, told police he was taking part in ‘enjoyable banter’ with a friend that ‘went too far’.
Prosecutor Mark Hughes said Houghton described himself as having ‘standard football banter’ with Sunderland fans.
He said it began with showing them pictures of the Newcastle United badge on his phone, to which they responded by showing pictures of a Sheffield United badge.
Mr Hughes said that Houghton subsequently searched online for a picture of Bradley Lowery.
He said: ‘He accepts he went too far and showed the picture of Bradley on his phone.’
Defending, Connie Combs, said Houghton wished to express his deep remorse, certainly to Bradley’s family as well as to the general public.
In a statement read to the court, Bradley’s mum Gemma said she’d been ‘left very upset by the incident’.
She added: ‘Houghton’s actions weren’t just disrespectful to Bradley, it has caused emotional turmoil to other ill children.’
Mr Hughes said Sheffield Wednesday’s chief operating officer Liam Dooley described Houghton’s behaviour as ‘outrageous and utterly deplorable’.
District Judge Marcus Waite told Houghton his actions that day were ‘utterly appalling’ and he caused trauma to an ‘already traumatised and grieving family’.
He said Houghton showed ‘callous disrespect’ to a brave young man who was rightly held in the ‘highest esteem by football fans’.
He added: ‘Your behaviour was disgraceful. You risked provoking a much more serious response.’
Source: | This article originally belongs to Daily Mail