A DRUNK football fan who racially abused England star Raheem Sterling today wept as he was spared jail.
Boozy Aston Villa supporter Kevin O’Brien, 61, yelled “You’re a black c***” at the Manchester City forward during the Carabao cup final on March 1.
The shamed lifelong Villa fan shed tears in the dock as he was handed a three-year football ban and given a 16-week curfew at North London’s Willesden magistrates’ court.
Married O’Brien, of Redditch, Worcs, admitted racial harassment during the match in which City beat Villa 2-1.
Sterling, a leading campaigner against racism, did not hear the abuse directed at him but O’Brien was reported by a “disgusted” fan.
Shortly before today’s hearing, an officer from the police central football unit approached bespectacled O’ Brien and informed him about the football ban.
Prosecutor Katie Reiss then told the court: “This incident occurred on March 1 at the Carabao cup final between Manchester City and Aston Villa.
“There is a witness who was sat in seat 125 watching the game and the defendant was sitting directly behind them.
“The witness heard the defendant shout abuse at the field such as ‘Sterling, you’re a black c***’ in an angry manner.
“This was said after an incident on the field between him and another player.
“It’s not believed Raheem Sterling heard the comment. The witness said he was disgusted and angry at the comment.”
O’Brien was arrested and told police: “I may have called him a black b***er, but that’s about it.”
Prosecutor Ms Reiss said: “He also said he was drunk and shouted a lot of things but that it was not directed at a specific person.
“He said there was a couple in front of him and he did apologise to them.
He said he doesn’t remember exactly what was said.”
O’Brien claimed in his police interview that he had lost control because of the effects of alcohol with his daily medication.
Qaisar Shah, defending, said: “It’s one sentence that he says, a few words really, and the racial element wasn’t the main reason for him making the remark.
“He’s been going to football matches since he was 15 year old – for 46 years.”
Mr Shah said O’Brien had been a season ticket holder for the last two years and normally drove to games but had been drinking that day and “doesn’t remember it too well.”
The lawyer added: “He’s been trying to understand himself how he behaved in such a manner.
“He feels deeply ashamed by what he’s done. He deeply apologises. He’s led a hard-working life, he’s been married for 41 years, he’s now retired.”
Magistrates’ chair Ms Yuksel Mehmet told O’ Brien: “This was targeted racial abuse which is completely unacceptable.
“Now, although Raheem Sterling was targeted he did not appear to hear this.
“However, there were multiple people around who would have been distressed by your remarks.”
Ms Mehmet said it was not appropriate for O’Brien to pay compensation to the £300,000-a-week player as he did not hear the abuse.
O’Brien then wept silently as he was given a curfew, banned from football matches and ordered to pay £175 costs.
Sterling has been the repeated subject of abuse from football fans.
In December 2018 Chelsea fans ferociously barracked the City star, but the CPS did not charge a BT manager with racial abuse after a lip reader ruled he called the player a “Manc c***” and did not scream racist abuse at him.