Irish teenager who hurled racist abuse at Ian Wright after losing a Fifa match is spared jail


Ian Wright has slammed a judge’s lenient sentence for a teenage yob who hurled racist abuse at the player on social media after he was spared a criminal conviction.  

Patrick O’Brien, from Ashleigh Downs, Tralee, in Ireland, pleaded guilty after sending a chain of 20 messages to the former England and Arsenal player, 57, on Instagram in May last year. 

Wright issued a statement on the ruling, saying that he was left feeling ‘disappointed’.  

Patrick O'Brien (right), 18, covers his face as he arrived at Tralee District Court for sentencing after racially abusing footballer Ian Wright

Patrick O’Brien (right), 18, covers his face as he arrived at Tralee District Court for sentencing after racially abusing footballer Ian Wright

The teenager sent a chain of 20 messages to the former England and Arsenal player (pictured) on Instagram

The teenager sent a chain of 20 messages to the former England and Arsenal player (pictured) on Instagram

‘This case was never about revenge, it was always about consequences for acts of racism. 

‘My forgiveness of this young man was for my own deeply personal need and desire to move forward without any anguish. 

‘I’m a 57-year-old man that has experienced racism throughout my life. 

‘I wasn’t expecting my forgiveness to be an invitation to lighten a sentence. 

‘Seeing this judgement, I can only wonder what deterrent there is for anyone else who spouts this kind of vile racist abuse. 

‘An individual wished death upon me because of my skin colour. No judge’s claims of “naivety” or “immaturity” will ever be acceptable to us. 

‘The supposed immaturity and naivety of our attackers is never any comfort. 

‘So yeah I am disappointed. I’m tired. We are all tired.’   

The horrific abuse included a string of racial insults and in one message, he wrote: ‘You’re like a 65 year old. If I get corona I will cough in your face and give you your death sentence. If I see you I will put you on your death bed.’

The 18-year-old later wrote Wright a full apology which the footballer accepted and voluntarily donated 500 Euros to an anti-racism charity. 

At sentencing today, the judge said he didn’t see anything to be gained’ by imposing a criminal conviction.

O’Brien had bought Ian Wright as a ‘legend’ in Fifa’s Ultimate Team mode, which allows gamers to assemble a dream team using football players from different clubs to play against others online.

Iconic players from the past, such as Wright who retired from football in 2000, can be bought with real or virtual money in the popular computer game. 

O’Brien flew into a wild rage after losing a game in which he had selected the computerised version of Wright in his team, prompting him to send the abuse to the real life ex-footballer.

The horrific abuse included a string of racial insults after O'Brien had lost a game of Fifa in which he had selected Wright

The horrific abuse included a string of racial insults after O’Brien had lost a game of Fifa in which he had selected Wright

After receiving the messages, Wright, who is now a prominent pundit often featuring on Match of the Day, screenshotted the abuse and shared it with his followers.

He said at the time: ‘I know I’m not meant to look at them but these messages still hit me so hard man. 

‘This is a child!!! This kid has a direct line into me and is able to send this without any worry.’ 

After his messages were exposed, O’Brien deleted his various social media accounts.

The teenager pleaded guilty in November to two charges of harassment and sending offensive messages by phone. 

At a sentencing hearing at Tralee District Court on Wednesday, Judge David Waters said ‘he didn’t see anything to be gained’ by imposing a criminal conviction.

Defending lawyer Patrick Mann said the teenager had a 'rush of blood to the head'

Defending lawyer Patrick Mann said the teenager had a ‘rush of blood to the head’

He noted O’Brien has shown genuine remorse for his actions and had donated 500 Euros to the Irish Network Against Racism out of his own volition.

He said the language used was reprehensible, but it was the unthinking behaviour of a naive, immature, young man.

He noted that O’Brien had written a fulsome apology to Wright, which was accepted by the former footballer, who forgave his abuser.

Defending lawyer Patrick Mann said O’Brien’s actions were caused by a ‘rush of blood to the head’ and he had never been in trouble with the police before. 

Wright said in an impact statement at court, according to The Sun: ‘Emotional, very shook with the intensity. I have experienced racism years ago but I am in complete shock to experience it now and am very disappointed. 

‘Patrick, I forgive you. I believe there is redemption for everyone. I hope that you and also those who either taught you or enabled this hate will learn from this and change for the better.’



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Written by Bourbiza Mohamed

A technology enthusiast and a passionate writer in the field of information technology, cyber security, and blockchain

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