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Man convicted after kids ‘racially abused’ playing football

DIVERSE VICTIMS: Nirvana FC's Under-14 team

A COURT has convicted a man after he was accused of racially abusing children no older than 14-years-old.

Colin Franks, 50, of Linwood Lane, was found guilty of a section five public order offence at Leicester Magistrates’ Court.

He was handed a 12-month conditional discharge sentence – effectively meaning he will serve no punishment this time, but if he is brought before the courts in the next year he could be charged again with the same offence and given a more severe reprimand.

Franks was a spectator supporting Leicestershire youth team Blaby and Whetstone FC as they played an Under 14 match against Nirvana FC (NFC).

The Voice broke the story about claims of racial abuse directed at the children – it gained national attention as an example of racism at grassroots level football.

The incident also spurred on a national football roadshow against racism that has been touring the country with events held in Birmingham and other cities before it culminates in London this autumn.

HEADLINE: How The Voice broke the original story

Witnesses watching the game, played in October 2012, claimed that monkey chants and gestures were directed at NFC players, with allegations made that words such as “n****” and “monkey” were used.

Franks entered a guilty plea during his trial; six witnesses were ready to testify against him.

NFC’s chairman Kirk Master said: “After a frustrating nine-month wait the club are pleased that some justice for our youngsters has been achieved today.

“[We] are disappointed that the original charge was reduced from a racial offence to a public order offence.

“The club will always challenge any forms of abuse [and] discrimination and will pursue justice.”

Last year, shortly after the incident, Corinne Melbourne, a parent of a child in the Nirvana team, told The Voice: “I thought, is it now time for justice for these kids, for people to be accountable, because this is 30 years along the line, and nobody seems to be doing a thing about racism.”

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