A football fan who ripped up pages of the Qur’an during a match has been fined.
Mark Stephenson, a Middlesbrough season-ticket holder, was ordered to pay £235 by magistrates.
The 25-year-old from Shrewsbury committed the religiously aggravated public order offence last December during Middlesbrough’s Championship fixture at Birmingham City. He was reportedly “shocked and appalled” at his own actions.
The purchasing manager was among a group of about 20 visiting supporters who were handed pages of the Qur’an by a woman during the match.
Jonathan Purser, prosecuting, told Birmingham magistrates court that Stephenson, who had no previous convictions or cautions, was seen with a lighter, apparently pretending to set fire to some of the pages. Stephenson told a steward who asked what the book was: “It’s the Muslim bible: we hate Muslims.”
Other fans were shouting and chanting at the time of the offence, and the words Qur’an, Muslims and burning were overheard by a steward.
Defence solicitor Ash Mistry told magistrates that his client had been drinking alcohol before the match and at half-time, and had very little recollection of his actions.
Magistrates opted not to impose a football banning order on Stephenson.
Source: UK Guardian.