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Fan racist towards rival supporters
A Liverpool FC fan has been found guilty of racially abusing rival Manchester United supporters and their club captain Patrice Evra.
Phillip Gannon, 58, was seen on live television doing a racially offensive monkey impression, Liverpool Magistrates' Court was told.
The incident happened amid a volatile atmosphere at Anfield on January 28 this year when the two sides met in an FA Cup fourth round clash, said Rob Girvan, prosecuting.
It was the first game between the Premier League rivals since an eight-match ban was imposed on Liverpool striker Luis Suarez after the FA found him guilty of racially abusing Mr Evra.
In the 23rd minute of the game the TV camera panned over fans in the lower Centenary Stand, where Gannon was sitting with two friends, and he was seen to position his hands under his armpits.
Gannon, a 58-year-old carpenter and joiner, of Heol Meirion, Barmouth, north Wales, was found guilty of two counts of using abusive or insulting words within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused alarm or distress.
The court heard the offences were racially aggravated, despite Gannon's claims that the "monkey" gesture was a reference to "cavemen" and that he never abused Evra in French.
But the chairman of the bench said they deemed it to be a monkey gesture, adding that it was "clearly racist" and the bench also believed that Gannon shouted a racist insult at Evra in French when he came towards the touchline. "There is no doubt that this was a racist remark," he said.
Gannon sat about eight rows back from the pitch at the Anfield Road end of the Centenary Stand, the court heard. The Manchester United fans were in the Anfield Road stand about 20 to 30 yards away.
Gannon also said that at the time he was unaware that "Pikey" was a racial slur against the travelling community.