A man who insulted 11-year-old Lurgan boy Jay Beatty on social media has been banned from attending football matches for a year.
Aberdeen fan Ross Gibson was in the dock of the city’s Sheriff Court after admitting he tweeted that Celtic fan Jay Beatty, who has Downs Syndrome, was a “disabled piece of s***”.
He also made crude remarks about Celtic captain Scott Brown’s sister Fiona, who died of skin cancer in 2008.
After the comments Gibson faced a huge backlash and shut down his Twitter account hours after making the remarks, with people calling on Scottish police to arrest him.
Gibson, who admitted acting in a threatening and abusive manner by sending sectarian messages online, was ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work and banned from attending football matches for 12 months.
During the hearing sheriff David Hall told him: “Picking on vulnerable individuals is simply not acceptable.”
Defence lawyer Paul Barnett told the court the first-time offender had been drinking before posting the “poorly judged” messages and said his client was disgusted by his behaviour, which followed a match between Aberdeen and Celtic in March.
Jay became an internet sensation after becoming the only non-professional player to score the Scottish Professional League goal of the month last year. His pre-match penalty during Celtic’s game against Hamilton Academical led to the packed terraces giving a huge roar of approval as the 11-year-old hit the back of the net.
He was later nominated for the Scottish Premiership goal of the month award and won the accolade with an incredible 97% of the vote. It was after Jay went to collect his award in March the vicious online attack occurred.
The aspiring young footballer has not let his Down’s syndrome hamper him and has done a lot to break down social barriers.
His mother Aine set up the charity Downs and Proud when Jay was very young to help dispel the myths of the condition and help parents of babies with Downs Syndrome.
Lurgan has been very proud of young Jay who has inspired and touched not just locals but many people on an international basis.