Football fan who mocked death of child mascot Bradley Lowery avoids jail

UK

A man has been given a suspended sentence and a five-year football ban after mocking the death of child mascot Bradley Lowery at a football match.

Dale Houghton, from Rotherham, pleaded guilty to a public order offence at Sheffield Magistrates’ Court in October and received a 12 week sentence suspended for 18 months.

He is also required to carry out 200 hours of unpaid voluntary work in the community.

Bradley was diagnosed with rare cancer neuroblastoma when he was just 18 months old and died aged six in 2017.

Image:
Bradley Lowery in 2016

Houghton was seen holding up a picture of Bradley and laughing in the stands at Sheffield Wednesday’s match against Sunderland at Hillsborough Stadium on Friday 29 September.

An image of the incident was met with outrage on social media and sparked an apology from Sheffield Wednesday.

In his sentencing remarks, the judge called the actions of Houghton, 32, “appalling and disgraceful” and said that he “inflicted trauma on an already bereaved family”.

District Judge Marcus Waite said to Houghton: “You showed callous disrespect to a brave young man who was rightly held in the highest esteem by football fans everywhere.”

Image:
Lowery with Jermain Defoe in 2016

He was a mascot for both Sunderland and England, and formed a close bond with his beloved team’s striker Jermain Defoe, who called Bradley his “best mate”.

At the time, Defoe said he was “appalled and saddened” by Houghton’s actions.

He added: “My thoughts at this time go out to Gemma and Carl, Bradley’s parents, who shouldn’t have to deal with incidents like this, but rather be praised for the amazing work they are doing with the Bradley Lowery Foundation in their son’s memory.”

Bradley’s mother previously told the court that she saw the picture on Facebook.

Mrs Lowery said it “wasn’t just disrespectful to Bradley, but also to other people as well”, and it risked causing “so much emotional trauma to other children with cancer”.

Following the incident, more than £11,000 was raised for The Bradley Lowery Foundation.

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