A FORMER Lugar and Craigmark footballer who hurled shameful racist abuse at a demonstration over Syrian refugees being housed in Scotland was spared jail for the offence this week.
Non-league midfielder Steven Kerr was arrested during clashes between pro and anti-refugee groups in Monkton.
The 31-year-old – who is known as “Kerso” – was detained after hurling racist abuse during the demonstration on Sunday, November 15 last year.
Tempers flared in Monkton’s Main Street when members of the Scottish Defence League and pro-refugee demonstrators expressed their views about around 150 refugees being granted emergency accommodation at the nearby Adamton Country House Hotel.
Kerr was held to yell “black b******” at the rally, which took place just hours after the Paris attacks which left 130 people dead and a further 368 injured.
The demo – which saw a pro-refugee group marching through the village – also took place following Prime Minister David Cameron’s pledge that Britain would receive 1,000 of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees before Christmas.
Kerr was held in custody pending a court appearance and was charged with breaking Section 38(1) of the Criminal Justice and Licensing Scotland Act 2010.
Prosecutors claimed he behaved in a threatening or abusive manner which was likely to cause a reasonable person to suffer fear or alarm by shouting, swearing and making racial remarks.
He was due to go on trial at Ayr Sheriff Court last month but struck a deal with prosecutors which saw him plead guilty to an amended charge just minutes before his trial was due to start.
Kerr, who is also a member of the Ayr Protestant Boys Flute Band, admitted shouting a single racist remark during the clashes.
Sentence was deferred so he could assessed by social workers and he returned to the dock this week to learn his fate, with the threat of a possible 12-month jail term hanging over his head.
Procurator fiscal depute Lucy Adams told Sheriff John Montgomery that a pro-refugee group was marching through Main Street, Monkton, when they were met with an anti-refugee group.
Words were exchanged between the attendees, some of whom are understood to have been members of the far-right Scottish Defence League, insults were traded and Kerr was heard to shout the single racist comment.
Defence solicitor Steven Maxwell said Kerr had been provoked and reacted angrily because someone with a loudhailer shouted, “Get these Nazi scum off our streets” in his ear with the amplification device as he walked passed.
Sheriff John Montgomery then asked if Kerr’s attendance at the demo was evidence of racist views he holds.
He said: “Why did he go to this? He must have some interesting views?”
Maxwell replied: “In meetings I’ve had with him he doesn’t appear to have any particularly strong views.
“He had gone there with some friends.”
The lawyer asked for leniency for Kerr, who works as a delivery driver for Benson’s For Beds.
As he spared Kerr jail and fined him £750 for the offence, Sheriff Montgomery said: “I don’t think custody is necessary for this.
“You should be aware, Mr Kerr, that such derogatory and racial views can lead to more serious things taking place.”
Kerr has also played for Junior sides Ardrossan Winton Rovers and Whitletts Victoria in his non-league footballing career.
He left hometown club Whitletts Victoria in February this year due to work commitments.