Edinburgh trio fined for verbally abusing England rugby boss Eddie Jones
Three Scottish rugby fans have been fined after they hurled foul-mouthed abuse at England head rugby coach Eddie Jones following the Calcutta Cup triumph in February
Footage released online showed the group approaching the 58-year-old for a photograph as he left Manchester Oxford Road rail station to catch a waiting car before the atmosphere turned sour.
One of the Scotland supporters shouted “what about last night, you baldy c***” and Mr Jones was repeatedly called a “f****** baldy c***” as he was ushered into the vehicle by his driver on February 25.
On Wednesday, Richie Cleeton, 22, Connor Inglis, 25, and Brett Grant, 23, from Edinburgh, all pleaded guilty to a public order offence of using threatening abusive words and behaviour, or disorderly behaviour, likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress.
Sentencing the trio at Manchester Magistrates’ Court, chair of the bench Joe Bangudu said: “This was a short-lived but disgraceful incident.
“Your language, although described by your defence as industrial, we think was vile and therefore unacceptable directed to anybody.
“The location where you chose to display your drunken behaviour was in a public vicinity, with not just Mr Jones in that proximity.
“There could have been kids that could have been affected by your behaviour.
“No-one should ever have to put up with such language and behaviour.
“We have not seen any sort of remorse by you. That is a concern.”
Cleeton, of Carrick Knowe Avenue, was fined £120, Inglis, of Cornhill Terrace, received a fine of £105 and Grant, of Drum Crescent, was given a financial penalty of £140.
All three were also ordered to pay court costs of £115 each.
Mr Bangudu said Grant had prolonged the behaviour and language by opening the car door once Mr Jones was inside.
Carl Miles, prosecuting, said Jones was travelling on the train the following day after his team’s loss in the Six Nations fixture.
On the journey were a number of rugby fans including the defendants who had not been to the game at Murrayfield.
The defendants also alighted in Manchester and initially spotted Mr Jones’s driver on the approach outside the station as one of them commented to him he was “smartly dressed”.
READ MORE: Leader comment: Fans who harassed Jones bring shame on the country
They then turned their attention to the arriving Jones and asked him for a photograph.
The court was told Mr Miles said: “Mr Jones consented and, realising they were opposing fans, he may have done so to diffuse the situation. Then things began to become a bit more disorderly.”
As the driver ushered Jones into the vehicle, one of the group rubbed the coach on the head and attempted to kiss him on the head before someone said: “You f***ing baldy c***”.
Swearing and chanting continued and the phrase “you f***ng baldy c***” was repeated as the car door was opened by Grant.
The driver described Jones as appearing to be “quite shaken” and believed the incident could have escalated and “may have become physical”.
The court was told that Jones did not wish to make a statement on the incident.
Footage of the incident circulated on social media at the time and the defendants voluntary attended police stations following a media appeal for information.
Matthew Wallace, representing all three defendants, said: “I think it is fair to say he (Jones) is somewhat of a divisive character.
“It is clear that this is somebody who has gone out of his way to upset fans from various rugby nations in recent months.”
He cited Jones’s comments about the “scummy Irish”, Wales being a “shit little place” and the questioning of whether Scotland could “handle expectations” ahead of the England game.
The defendants only wanted a photograph, he said, before an amount of banter followed in which “industrial language” was used but that Jones had also been abusive to one of them.
Mr Wallace conceded “things got out of hand” and “they went too far” as Jones walked away from them but he added: “It was not conduct that is threatening. No-one is trying to hit him or manhandle him.
“We are talking about the space of 10 seconds. That is the length of the incident.
“They had had a drink. They met a divisive character who you would expect engages in banter in different directions. That person does not make a complaint.”
Responding, Mr Miles told the court: “Ribbing and banter that occurs during the course of game is in a sporting environment. Mr Jones is on his own time here. You don’t expect to see a group of individuals swearing at people while intoxicated.”
Shouts of “Freedom” were heard as the defendants later left the court building.
A fourth defendant, Dale Cleeton, 25, also of Carrick Knowe Avenue, pleaded not guilty to the same offence and will go on trial on August 10.