A Sunderland fan who threatened to kill ‘at least 150’ Pompey supporters in a tweet avoided a jail term because the court was told he could lose his home if he went to prison.
The court heard how Sunderland fan, Kieran Richardson, 22, admitted sending two threatening tweets ahead of the League One play-off semi-final, second leg at Fratton Park on May 16.
Security was heightened for the game after Richardson tweeted: ‘I wonder how many Portsmouth fans I can shoot. Everyone remember the Manchester Arena bombing, just imagine Fratton Park going bang. Well let’s find out tomorrow, p.s. I got tickets in the Pompey end, let the fun begin. I’m hoping to KILL at least 150 Portsmouth fans fingers crossed.’
Richardson followed up his initial threat by tweeting; ‘Bomb, bomb, Fratton Park went bang, the Portsmouth fans all died. Haha, going to be fun tomorrow headline news. Fratton Park fans will die.’
Prosecutor, Katherine Reeve, said Richardson had a lengthy criminal record for loutish behaviour but also for malicious or ‘false’ communications.
Richardson’s solicitor, James Fenny, claimed his client sent the tweets in response to a message sent by a Portsmouth fan who allegedly tweeted: ‘Twenty pounds to anybody who can hit a Sunderland fan in the away end.’
Mr Fenny added Richardson had neither explosives nor tickets and that ‘the police realised there was no threat really there’.
Despite accepting that Mr Richardson’s actions had been ‘foolish’ he urged the court not to impose a prison sentence as his client would lose his home and was looking to start a college course in September.
Richardson, of Northallerton Road, Brompton, was sentenced to a 12-month community order with a 25-day rehabilitation programme and three-month nightly curfew during which he will wear an electronic tag. He was also ordered to pay £85 costs and a victim surcharge of a similar amount.
Margarett Scott, chair of the magistrates’ bench, said: ‘This was one of the most stupid things you have ever done.’
She added the offence was so serious it would ordinarily warrant a jail sentence but because Richardson was trying to turn his life around it was decided he could be punished in the community.