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Man faces court for mocking Sunderland fan who died of cancer

A man has been charged with a public order offence after he allegedly taunted Sunderland supporters with a photo of Bradley Lowery, a young fan who died of cancer in 2017. The incident occurred during a football match between Sheffield Wednesday and Sunderland on Friday, September 29, 2023.

Bradley Lowery: A football hero

Bradley Lowery was a six-year-old boy who captured the hearts of millions with his brave battle against neuroblastoma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer. He was diagnosed when he was 18 months old and underwent several rounds of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and immunotherapy. He also raised more than £1 million for charity through his foundation.

Bradley was a passionate Sunderland fan and became the club’s mascot on several occasions. He formed a close bond with the team’s striker Jermain Defoe, who described him as his “best friend”. Bradley also led England out at Wembley for a World Cup qualifier against Lithuania in 2017. He passed away on July 7, 2017, surrounded by his family.

Sheffield Wednesday vs Sunderland: A shameful act

On Friday, September 29, 2023, Sheffield Wednesday hosted Sunderland at Hillsborough Stadium for a League One match. Sunderland won the game 3-0, but the result was overshadowed by a disgraceful act from some home fans.

Man faces court for mocking Sunderland fan who died of cancer

According to reports, two men allegedly displayed an image of Bradley Lowery on their phones and waved it at the away supporters to mock them. The image quickly circulated online and sparked outrage from both clubs and the wider football community.

Sheffield Wednesday issued a statement condemning the behaviour and apologising to Bradley’s family and friends. The club also said it would support the police investigation and cooperate with any sanctions imposed.

South Yorkshire Police arrested two men, aged 31 and 27, on Saturday on suspicion of outraging public decency. One of them, Dale Houghton from Rotherham, was charged with a section 4a public order offence and remanded in custody. He appeared before Sheffield Magistrates Court on Monday morning. The police also applied for a football banning order against him. The other man was released on police bail while further inquiries were conducted.

Bradley’s mother: Let the police do their job

Bradley’s mother, Gemma Lowery, expressed her sadness and anger over the incident on social media. She thanked the police for their swift action and checked on her well-being. She also thanked Sheffield Wednesday and their fans for their quick condemnation and support.

“Bradley was and still is well loved in the football community, which I’m eternally grateful for, but I must ask that everyone lets the police do their job and deal with the low lives,” she wrote.

She added that she hoped that justice would be served and that people would remember Bradley for his smile and courage.

“Like we always say, cancer has no colours, and as we all know it can affect anyone at any time,” she said.

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