Middlesbrough soccer fans fined by British court for tearing up Koran

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 May, 2014, 9:06pm
UPDATED : Friday, 02 May, 2014, 9:06pm


Two soccer fans have been convicted of tearing up a copy of the Koran during an English soccer match and throwing the pieces in the air.

Julie Phillips, 50, ripped pages from the Islamic holy book and handed them out to fellow supporters of the visiting team to shred during offensive chanting, Birmingham Magistrates' Court in central England heard on Thursday.

Phillips and fellow Middlesbrough fan Gemma Parkin, 18, both from the northeast English town, were found guilty of a religiously aggravated public order offence.

The incident happened during the second-tier English Championship 2-2 draw between hosts Birmingham City and visitors Middlesbrough at St Andrew's stadium on December 7. The two women were convicted of causing harassment, alarm or distress and fined.

They had both denied knowing that the book being torn apart was the Koran. Parkin said she had been handed the book in Birmingham city centre and did not know what it was. Phillips claimed she was simply making confetti to throw in the air.

Passing sentence, the magistrate, Gordon Sayers, said: "This was a very unpleasant offence and there was a degree of pre-planning involved."

He said Parkin was "well aware" of what she was doing.

Phillips was ordered to pay £730 (HK$9,600) and Parkin £620 in fines, court costs and victim surcharges.

A third fan was fined £235 by magistrates in March for the same offence. He admitted being among supporters who were handed pages from the Koran.