A FIREMAN from Port Glasgow has been fined £750 for a tirade of threatening sectarian abuse sent to referee John Beaton following an Old Firm match.

Celtic supporter Paul McKee, 32, called the whistler a 'cheating lowlife' and 'rancid scum', among other terms, in the aftermath of his team's 1-0 loss to Rangers at Ibrox in December last year.

The dad-of-two sent a series of foul-mouthed sectarian and threatening abuse directly to Mr Beaton - whose phone number had been leaked online - during a 40-minute rant on mobile messaging service WhatsApp.

A court heard how McKee also spent half an hour repeatedly calling the referee's home phone line and then moaned when nobody answered.

Mr Beaton, 37, had been criticised for his performance in the derby match.

McKee appeared at Hamilton Sheriff Court and admitted sending messages containing grossly offensive, menacing and sectarian remarks in January this year.

He was fined £750 by Sheriff Alasdair MacFadyen.

The lawman said: "When Mr Beaton signed up to be a football referee, he did not sign up to be a recipient of this nasty form of abuse from you or anyone else.

"This fine will hopefully deter others from acting in a similar way in the future."

McKee was interviewed by police at his Port Glasgow home in February and had electronic devices, including iPads belonging to his children, confiscated.

Defence lawyer Tony Callaghan told the court his client was a first offender who is a part-time firefighter and also worked at a care home.

Mr Callaghan said: "He is deeply ashamed by this whole process and has been distraught at what has happened.

"He now recognises that he was the author of his own misfortune and it was reprehensible.

"It occurred at night, he had taken a few drinks and was online in the house himself and, quite stupidly, thought he would show off to his friends by adding the complainer to this group chat.

"He received a shock when the police arrived and took all the electronic devices, including iPads belonging to the children away, and to say his partner was not best pleased would be an understatement."

McKee is the third man to admit to abusing Mr Beaton following the Old Firm match, including Celtic fan Kevin Cushnahan, 41, of Gourock, who was fined £550 at Greenock Sheriff Court last week.