A KINGSWINFORD man has been found guilty of racially abusing West Bromwich Albion footballer Romaine Sawyers on social media by suggesting the midfielder should win the “Baboon d’Or”.

Simon Silwood posted the message on a “sarcastic” fan zone WhatsApp group titled “Romaine Sawyers – Ballon d’Or” following his team’s 5-0 defeat to Manchester City at the Hawthorns on January 26, Walsall Magistrates’ Court was told.

The 50-year-old told police his message on the group was “stupid not racial” and said autocorrect had changed the word “buffoon” to “baboon”.

On Thursday, District Judge Bryony Clarke said Silwood was “not a credible witness” – adding that the defendant meant the post to be “grossly offensive”.

The court heard that Sawyers, who is currently on loan at Stoke City and was reporting a separate alleged racist social media post when he was shown Silwood’s message, was left feeling “harassed, alarmed and distressed” after reading it.

Silwood was charged following an investigation carried out by Pc Stuart Ward, who is the UK’s first dedicated hate crime officer within a football unit.

Silwood, of Randall Close, Kingswinford, West Midlands, will be sentenced at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court on September 30.

West Bromwich Albion has also banned the 50-year-old for life after he was initially suspended by the club when the incident occurred in January.

A spokesperson for West Bromwich Albion Football Club said: “The club welcomes the guilty verdict and has issued a lifetime ban to the person in question.

“West Bromwich Albion has a proud history of fighting all forms of discrimination and our message to supporters is clear; racism is wholly unacceptable and will not be tolerated by the club.

“We will continue to work with West Midlands Police to ensure all instances of racism, either at The Hawthorns or online, are reported. Anyone who is found guilty of such an offence will be banned from the club for life.

“Albion will continue to campaign for social media companies to take greater responsibility for the online hate published on their platforms.

“We would like to place on record our thanks to PC Stuart Ward, West Midlands Police’s Dedicated Football Hate Crime Officer, who worked with the club throughout the case.”