Two men have been jailed for racially abusing former Manchester United and England striker Andrew Cole while drunk on a flight in December 2013.
Both from Dublin, 26-year-old Gregory Horan and 28-year-old Lee Byrne abused Cole on a flight from the Irish capital to Manchester, as reported by Eurosport.
The Aer Arran service they were on took off at 9:30 a.m., but both men were already drunk when they boarded the plane.
They have subsequently been sentenced at Minshull Street Crown Court in Manchester, as noted by Graeme Yorke of the Daily Mail.
As the afore-mentioned Eurosport article notes: "Byrne has been handed a 20-week sentence and Horan a ten-week sentence, after they subjected Cole to slurs such as 'Mr Blackman' and 'spook.'"
The report also provided a statement from the 42-year-old Cole, which was read out in court:
I’ve been the victim of racism before and will not tolerate this abuse in any capacity.
I am worried if nothing happens or changes the next generation of young people, including my own children, will suffer the same discrimination and that is unacceptable to me.
The two men were asked by cabin crew if they wished to leave the plane prior to take-off, but both refused and continued to abuse the staff when they were asked to hand over the bottle of rum they had smuggled onto the plane.
They also "'hassled' and kicked the chairs of two female passengers" while on board, the court heard, and were arrested when the plane touched down and later charged.
According to Yorke's report, Byrne, from Blanchardstown, pleaded guilty to a racially aggravated public order offence and being drunk on an aircraft at Trafford Magistrates’ Court in December. Meanwhile, Horan, from Castleknock, admitted being drunk on an aircraft. Both men were reported to have shown remorse for their actions, per Yorke.
Former England international Cole tweeted on December 30 to express gratitude for the support he had received:
Can I just say thank you for the tweets and the support. 👍— Andrew Cole (@vancole9) December 30, 2013
Cole played for United, Newcastle, Blackburn, Fulham and Manchester City in the Premier League and is second only to Alan Shearer as the division's top scorer of all time, per ESPN FC:
Premier League all-time top scorers: 1) Shearer - 260. 2) Andy Cole - 187. 3) Thierry Henry - 175. 4) Rooney - 171. 5) Lampard - 170.— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) March 30, 2014
Cole famously won the Premier League, the FA Cup and the Champions League in Manchester United's 1999 Treble-winning season.