County Durham Man Admits Racist Tweets

6 February 2012, 12:42 | Updated: 30 March 2016, 13:50

A football fan from County Durham who caused outrage on Twitter by sending racist tweets has admitted two offences.

29 year old Sunderland fan Peter Copeland, was rowing on Twitter with a Newcastle United fan when what started as banter turned criminal.

Copeland tweeted one comment about the Newcastle star striker Demba Ba.

Sunderland Magistrates' Court heard that he followed it up with another which used offensive language.

Peter Anderson, prosecuting, said it was in reference to Newcastle United's 'Toon Army' nickname.

The comments were made on January 17th and followed Newcastle signing Ba's Senegal teammate Papiss Cisse.

He was arrested after the journalist Colin George, who works for the Evening Chronicle and Journal, reported the tweets to Northumbria police. 

Copeland told police there had been "banter" with a Newcastle supporter and his comments were an attempt to wind up the rival fan.

"He accepted he had gone way too far," Anderson said.

Copeland already had a conviction under the Malicious Communications Act, the court heard, but this concerned warning off an ex-partner's new boyfriend and was not of a similar nature to the racist tweeting.

Ruth Forster, defending, said:
"From the outset Mr Copeland has been extremely remorseful.

This case may act as a stark reminder that as soon as a comment is posted online it becomes available for the masses to see. He never intended his comments to reach a worldwide audience."

Forster said the Twitter row between Copeland and the Newcastle fan had started innocuously, but swiftly became nasty with the two trading insults before her client made his "stupid mistake".

After realising how widespread his remarks had become, he wrote a letter of apology to Newcastle United.

Forster urged magistrates not to link the case to football's other high-profile race issues.

Unemployed Copeland, who lives with his parents in Benridge Bank, West Rainton, Durham, admitted two offences under the Malicious Communications Act and will be sentenced on February 27th.