A GOUROCK Celtic fan sent vile sectarian abuse to a top Scottish referee after an explosive Old Firm clash.

Kevin Cushnahan added John Beaton, 36, to a Celtic supporters' WhatsApp group after the official's work's mobile phone number was leaked online.

Cushnahan, 41, added him to the Emerald Wine Crew group, where he and other Celtic season ticket holders make arrangements for going to games.

They then bombarded Beaton with a barrage of abuse, before Cushnahan made a hate-filled slur and kicked him out the chat.

Procurator Fiscal Depute Pamela Brady explained: "On December 29, 2018, the complainer, John Beaton, was a Grade One Referee at a Rangers v Celtic football match taking place at Ibrox Park in Glasgow.

"There was some controversy on some decisions and Mr Beaton was the subject of criticism.

"He was subject to a barrage of sectarian hate comments by other users but this particular chapter of abuse was attributable to Kevin Cushnahan."

Beaton contacted police over the abuse and Cushnahan, a married dad-of-two, was arrested and charged.

He yesterday pleaded guilty to breaking Section 127(1)(a) of the Communications Act 2003, in an offence that was aggravated by religious prejudice, on January 4 this year.

Defence solicitor Eddie Sweeney said Cushnahan had been drunk on the evening in question and had added Beaton to the chat after being asked to by another member.

The lawyer said: "There were some lighthearted comments but some of it was beyond the pale.

"He is suitably regretful and remorseful.

"This took 15 seconds to create but the legacy he will have to live with. He does not consider himself a bigot - he has friends on both sides of the divide."

Sheriff John Hamilton slammed Cushnahan for his conduct.

He said: "It's a source of national disgrace that we have two clubs who have part of their supporters who seem to revel in perpetuating sectarian abuse.

"I have defended and prosecuted people who have been murdered due to actions following Old Firm games.

"You should be ashamed of yourself. It's pathetic."

He then asked Cushnahan how much a Celtic season ticket was and, when told it was £550, fined him that amount, adding: "That is a condign punishment."