Mercy Shawn Mendes
A Durham man who caused outrage on Twitter by sending racist tweets has been given a suspended jail sentence.
Peter Copeland, 29, was rowing on the social media site with a Newcastle United fan when what started as banter turned criminal.
Copeland, who lives with his parents in Benridge Bank, West Rainton, Durham, tweeted one comment about the Newcastle star striker Demba Ba during the row on January 17, and then followed it by making another comment.
When Copeland pleaded guilty earlier this month to two offences under the Malicious Communications Act, the court heard this was in reference to Newcastle United's Toon Army nickname.
District Judge Roger Elsey said a four month jail sentence was warranted because of the ``grossly offensive'' racist comments. But the sentence was suspended for 18 months as he had pleaded guilty and ``deeply regretted'' his actions.
Copeland must carry out 150 hours unpaid work and pay £85 costs. He claimed he was not racist during the last hearing.
Ruth Forster, defending, said: ``Mr Copeland now realises the stupidity of his actions in posting comments of that nature.''
Leaving court with his mother, Copeland declined to comment.