Ex-Hibs star Marvin Bartley 'extremely disappointed' after Hearts fan cleared of racial abuse at Edinburgh derby

A HEARTS fan accused of racially abusing ex-Hibs star Marvin Bartley has walked free from court after the charge against him was found to be not proven.

Tuesday, 17th December 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 17th December 2019, 9:49 am

Michael Robertson, 20, was alleged to have filmed himself shouting disgusting racial comments at the then-Hibs midfielder during a fiery Edinburgh derby earlier this year.

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Robertson was claimed to have bellowed the comments ‘f**king black n*****g b*****d’ and you f**king ni**er’ from the stands at Tynecastle Stadium as the footballer warmed up during the half time interval.

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Ex-Hibs player Marvin Bartley.

It was said video footage of the horrific abuse was then sent privately to Hibs fan Jade Aitken from Robertson’s Snapchat account and that she was so disgusted she posted it publicly.

Ms Aitken subsequently contacted police stating she recognised Robertson’s voice on the clip and he was soon arrested and charged with the racial abuse.

Robertson, from Stenhouse, denied the allegation and stood trial at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Monday where the charge against him was eventually found to be not proven.

Speaking after Sheriff Peter McCormack’s decision, Mr Bartley said he was “extremely disappointed” by the verdict and said the abuse was “the strongest racism” he had ever received.

'I was shocked'

During the trial the 33-year-old footballer, who currently plays for Livingston, told the court he did not hear the racist slurs at the time but was made aware of the video following the match on April 6 this year.

He said he was a substitute during the game and when he was warming up for the second half he was aware of coins being thrown at him and derogatory comments coming from the Hearts fans.

Mr Bartley said the language in the clip, which was shown to the court several times, was “extremely racial” and he found it to be “quite horrific”.

He added: “I was shocked that somebody could label me that way while at the end of the day I was only doing my job.”

The midfielder said he had been left upset at the abusive video and that his family in England had been “affected” by the racist comments.

The court heard Ms Aitken could not give evidence herself as she is currently backpacking in Australia but her police statement was read out as evidence.

The Hibs fan said she had been at the match and had been privately sent the racist video clip from Robertson’s Snapchat account following the derby match.

She was so disgusted by the language that she decided to post it publicly on her Twitter feed. The video was then retweeted thousands of times and she decided to inform the police.

Two police officers told the court they both believed the voice on the clip was Robertson’s and he was subsequently arrested and charged.

Lack of proof

Following all the evidence Sheriff McCormack said there was “no doubt a disgusting crime was committed” and that Mr Bartley had given his evidence “in a dignified manner”.

But the sheriff said the Crown had ultimately failed to prove the person who had taken the video at the match was the same person who had sent the clip to Ms Aitken.

He added the Crown had also failed to prove the Snapchat account the clip had been sent from belonged to Robertson.

The charge against Robertson was found to be not proven.

Following the verdict Mr Bartley said: “I’m obviously not a lawyer so don't know the law in and out but I am extremely disappointed [by the verdict].

“From the evidence I heard he sent the video and I feel there was enough evidence to say it was him. There was also two police officers who said it was the same voice.

“I saw it on social media afterwards and got in touch with Jade to thank her for making people aware of it and to let people know its not acceptable.

“There is a lot of racial stuff about just now and I would encourage people to speak up. It’s going in the right direction though.

“It’s the strongest racism I have heard in my 33 years being on the planet in terms of written, hearing or recording. That is as bad as it gets.”

Robertson was cleared of behaving in a threatening or abusive manner by shouting, swearing and shouting racist remarks regarding Marvin Bartley, a footballer employed by Hibernian FC, at Tynecastle Stadium, Edinburgh, on April 6 this year.

A thanks to police

On Monday night, Marvin Bartley tweeted: "Genuinely want to thank @policescotland for the way they dealt with this from minute one!

"Obviously I’m as shocked as anyone by the verdict but I’ll stick with the positives and say what a wonderful job the police did."