Sheffield court: SWFC fan Dale Houghton set to be sentenced over Bradley Lowery photo taunt tomorrow
Owls fan Dale Houghton has previously been told he could be sent to prison.
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A Sheffield Wednesday fan who taunted rival fans with a picture of a little boy who died from cancer is set to be sentenced tomorrow.
Brave Bradley Lowery captured the nation's heart during the course of his gruelling battle with cancer in 2017.
Tragically, the Sunderland supporter and club mascot succumbed to his illness aged just six-years-old, leaving thousands of fans devastated.
Both Sheffield Wednesday and Sunderland fans, along with the entire football community, were left disgusted when a picture circulated, appearing to show an Owls fan laughing as he held a picture of little Bradley aloft, during Sheffield Wednesday’s Championship clash with Sunderland on September 29, 2023.
Dale Houghton, of Black Moor Road, Wickersley, Rotherham, Wickersley, Rotherham, was subsequently charged with a public order offence, in connection with the incident.
Houghton appeared at Sheffield Magistrates' Court on October 2, 2023, when he entered a guilty plea to an offence of intentionally causing harassment, alarm or distress by displaying any writing, sign or other visible representation, which is threatening, abusive or insulting.
He is now due to be sentenced at the same court tomorrow (Friday, November 17, 2023), and at the conclusion of last month's hearing, District Judge James Gould told Houghton that his actions were 'utterly deplorable' and all sentencing options remain open - including a prison sentence.
During the course of the same hearing, Constance Coombs, defending, said Houghton 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".
Judge Gould said he had seen the photograph, which had been circulated.
He told Houghton: "You are holding up your phone and you were plainly revelling in what you were doing."
The defendant sat in the dock flanked by two security officers and wearing a pink coat over a grey sweatshirt and grey joggers.
Houghton was given bail on the 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.
During the course of the same hearing, 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".
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.
The court heard that it is probable that Houghton will face a football banning order.
Following Houghton's actions, Sheffield Wednesday fans launched a fundraiser which raised more than £18,000 for the Bradley Lowery Foundation.
Sunderland fans, moved at the gesture of support from the Owls supporters, have launched an appeal to raise money in memory of the son of a former Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper, Jude Mellon-Jameson, who died in October 2023 from the same neuroblastoma cancer which took the life of little Bradley.