Bradley Lowery: Man pleads guilty to public order offence after using image of six-year-old cancer victim to mock Sunderland fans during Championship fixture at Sheffield Wednesday

Bradley Lowery Jermain DefoeGetty

The incident happened during Sunderland's 3-0 victory over Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough on Friday night. An image was widely shared on social media after the game of a man holding up a photo of the late six-year-old towards the travelling supporters to mock them.

Sunderland fan and mascot Bradley passed away in 2017 having grown close with the players and regularly attended the Black Cats' matches.

Dale Houghton of Rotherham was arrested by the South Yorkshire Police on September 30 and was charged under Section 4a Public Order offence. He pleaded guilty to the offence at Sheffield Magistrates’ Court on Monday. The police department has also applied for a football banning order on Houghton.

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A police statement on the arrest of Houghton read: "A man has been charged after we received reports that two men had displayed an image of six-year-old Sunderland fan Bradley Lowery who tragically lost his life to cancer. The reports came after the Sheffield Wednesday v Sunderland match held at Hillsborough on Friday evening.

"Dale Houghton, 31, from Rotherham, was arrested yesterday (Saturday 30 September) and has now been charged with a Section 4a Public Order offence. Houghton has been remanded in custody and will appear before Sheffield Magistrates’ Court tomorrow morning (Monday 2 October). We have also applied for a football banning order. A 27-year-old man, also arrested yesterday, has been released on police bail while further enquiries are conducted."

Sheffield Wednesday also issue a statement on X (formerly Twitter) condemning the acts and also apologised to the family of the late child.

According to Sky News, district judge James Gould told Houghton his "actions are utterly deplorable", and said prison time was a possibility. Houghton will be sentenced on November 17.

Young Bradley was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a rare childhood cancer, when he was 18 months old. He tragically passed away due to the illness in 2017.

He was a mascot of Sunderland side and England and was known to share a close bond with former English international forward Jermain Defoe.