Dale Houghton: SWFC fan 'disgusted' at his own actions, loses job and faces ban from Hillsborough

He says he feels 'disgusted' with himself for using a young cancer victim's photo to taunt rival football fans.
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A Sheffield Wednesday fan who taunted rival Sunderland supporters by holding aloft a photo of a young boy and club mascot who died of cancer says he feels 'disgusted' with himself.

Bradley and his mum togetherBradley and his mum together
Bradley and his mum together

Dale Houghton, aged 31, mocked the death of Sunderland supporter Bradley Lowery after the Owls lost 3-0 to the Black Cats in a Championship clash at Hillsborough on Friday night.

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Bradley died in 2017 when he was just six years old after a gruelling cancer battle. Sunderland fans loved him and were devastated when he passed away.

Bradley LoweryBradley Lowery
Bradley Lowery

Dale Houghton, of Black Moor Road, Wickersley, Rotherham, Wickersley, Rotherham, admitted a public order offence at Sheffield Magistrates' Court today after being tracked down when pictures circulated on X, formerly Twitter, showing two men laughing at Hillsborough Stadium, with one of them - Dale Houghton - holding up a picture of Bradley on a mobile phone.

He was bailed and is to be sentenced on November 17.

Judge Gould said he had seen the photograph, which had been circulated.

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He told Houghton: "You are holding up your phone and you were plainly revelling in what you were doing."

The defendant, who has blond hair and a beard, sat in the dock flanked by two security officers and wearing a pink coat over a grey sweatshirt and grey joggers.

He listened as prosecutor Jade Scott read out part of a handwritten personal statement from Bradley's mother, Gemma, who said: "This image has made me feel so many emotions, I find it hard to put into words."

She said it was "disrespectful" to her son but also to other children who were suffering from cancer.

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Ms Lowery said: "I feel upset that these two men have used this image of Bradley to get a reaction from the Sunderland fans."

Judge Gould noted that the statement went on to describe the incident as "unforgivable" and that Bradley's mum "has nothing but loving memories" of her beloved son.

Ms Scott told the court that Houghton, gave "full and frank admissions" when he was interviewed by the police.

She said he told the officers he was taking part in "enjoyable banter" and "that was the reason he was smiling".

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Constance Coombs, defending, said her client was "disgusted by what he did".

Ms Coombs said there had been "mutual goading" between the Wednesday and Sunderland fans and he "took it too far".

She said the Sunderland fans were waving Sheffield United badges at the home fans and "my client took the deplorable decision to show the picture of Bradley Lowery".

Ms Coombs said that what he did was "out of character" and "he's very remorseful for his actions".

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The solicitor said her client was a window-fitter and he had lost his job as a result of what he did.

She said: "His behaviour was totally unacceptable."

And she added: "It may be alcohol plays more in relation to the offence than he may have originally have recognised."

Houghton admitted one count of intentionally causing harassment, alarm or distress by displaying any writing, sign or other visible representation, which is threatening, abusive or insulting.

He was given bail on condition that he does not attend regulated football grounds in the UK, does not go within a mile of Hillsborough Stadium on Sheffield Wednesday match days and completes a drug intervention programme.

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Houghton left the court by a back door with security staff helping him get into a waiting black car as he concealed his face with the pink hood of his coat.

Earlier, a statement was read to the court from Sheffield Wednesday's chief operating officer Liam Dooley, who said the actions of Houghton were "utterly deplorable behaviour" which "in no way represents the values of the club".

The court heard that it is probable that Houghton will face a football banning order.

The judge was told he has a previous conviction for an "unrelated" offence four years ago, which resulted in a fine.

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The picture of Houghton smiling and holding the phone caused widespread revulsion when it was circulated at the weekend.

Ms Lowery posted on Facebook: "Understandably people are angry, if I wasn't so upset I'd be angry too.

"Bradley was and still is well loved in the football community, which I'm eternally grateful for."

She said: "I want to thank Sheffield Wednesday for their quick condemnation, and the support their fans have shown."

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