THE trial of a football fan accused of racially abusing a player had to be halted yesterday after a magistrate revealed he had been ‘within the vicinity’ of where the incident allegedly happened.

Football fan Dean Parker, of Folly Way, Monk Bretton, pleaded not guilty to one charge of racially aggravated harassment at Barnsley Magistrates’ Court.

The 35-year-old is accused of targeting Barnsley Football Club defender Dimitri Cavare during the Reds’ 1-1 draw in the South Yorkshire derby against Doncaster Rovers at Oakwell on November 24 last year.

Three witnesses - who were sat in the lower part of the East Stand - claim they heard Mr Parker say ‘get your gloves off, you useless black c***’ to the Guadeloupe international.

A photo was taken of him by a fellow Barnsley fan sitting nearby and subsequently circulated on social media site Twitter, where he was identified following a ‘media storm’, according to prosecutor Aaron Dinnes.

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“This image came to the attention of South Yorkshire Police, whose investigating officers spoke to one of the prosecution’s witnesses,” he added. “Dimitri Cavare is a black male and two other witnesses also said they heard the racial slur.”

However, after the trial started, chair of the bench Graham Sanderson stopped proceedings and questioned one witness about whereabouts in the stadium the alleged abuse took place.

When it was revealed that it was the lower part of Oakwell’s East Stand, Mr Sanderson sought guidance from his legal advisor and admitted he too had been ‘in the vicinity’.

“In the fairness of justice, I can’t continue in the case as I was there on the day in question and although I have never met the defendant or the witnesses, I sit in that part of the ground,” he added.

A new trial date was fixed and will be held at Barnsley Magistrates’ Court on February 3. Parker was granted bail.