‘Idiot’ Childwall man pleads guilty to disaster taunts and racist abuse at Liverpool derby

A man has pleaded guilty to taunting Liverpool fans about the Heysel Stadium disaster and shouting racist abuse at a derby match against Everton in October 2023.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said that Joel Barwise, 26, of Childwall, made pushing gestures towards Liverpool fans at the game which was held at the Anfield ground on 21 October.

The gestures were made to taunt the fans about the Heysel stadium disaster in May 1985 when 39 Juventus fans were crushed during a disturbance before the club’s game against Liverpool.

Barwise was also spotted by an official steward at the ground, shouting racist abuse when the LFC player Mo Salah’s name was announced over the tannoy system at the ground.

The steward reported the incidents. Merseyside Police were informed and identified Barwise from CCTV at the game. The footage showed him committing the offences.

He was arrested. He initially denied he was the person responsible and said it was a case of mistaken identity. But, when shown the footage, he admitted he was responsible.

When asked why he had done it, he said, “Because I’m an idiot.” He said he had been stupid and knew that the taunts and chants would be offensive.

He pleaded guilty to a charge of using threatening, abusive words or behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress at Sefton Magistrates Court on 13 February.

He was fined £500 – the fine was increased to reflect the racial aggravation in the offending.

A football banning order (FBO) was also imposed on Barwise for three years. The order states that he cannot attend any football matches in the UK for three years and, when international matches are being staged abroad, he must surrender his passport.

He cannot go within a mile of any Everton match at home or away or within a mile of Lime Street station, the main intercity station in Liverpool, on match days.

Senior Crown Prosecutor Angela Conlan, of CPS Mersey Cheshire, said, “Joel Barwise no doubt thinks of himself as a loyal Everton fan, but his actions bring shame to his club.

“He made fun of a tragic football disaster in Turin in 1985 and shouted racist abuse when a key Liverpool player’s name was announced.

“Football has no place for this sort of behaviour and the majority of Everton fans would no doubt condemn his actions on that day and want to disassociate themselves from them.

“For his disgraceful behaviour, he is now banned from following his team or any other UK team for three years, has been fined and has a criminal record.

“The Crown Prosecution Service hopes this sends out a message to all football spectators that the law applies in a football ground as it does anywhere else and this sort of behaviour is criminal.”

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