David Di Pinto was convicted of an aggravated breach of the peace after attending the Celtic v Hibs cup final in December 2021. The appellant received complains at the game for causing. Disturbance. He was approached by two police officers who made requests for him to modify his behaviour. At this point, the appellant shouted and swore at the officers. The aggravation was sectarianism following the appellants use of the word ‘hun’ towards the officer. 

At the initial trial, it was herd that the term “hun” in a sectarian manner was within the scope of judicial knowledge. As such, he was fined £500 and given a 12 month football banning order. 

The appeal was raised on the basis that the Crown had failed to prove a religious aggravation and that it was not right for the trial sheriff to declare the phrase was within judicial knowledge. 

The appeal court considered the use of the phrase in a football context and acknowledged that a well informed person would consider it to be a word used to cause offence to those who were protestant, not merely those who supported Rangers FC. 

The appellant argued that it was not clearly established that the word was an insult to the protestant faith.

Lord Carloway, delivering the opinion of the court, began by explaining: “The fundamental problem for the respondent is that the Procurator Fiscal Depute elected to lead evidence from a Glasgow police officer, who was presumably involved in crowd control at the match, on what the appellant’s use of the word ‘hun’ meant. He replied that it was a reference to the officer being a Rangers fan. An accusation of being such a fan is neither sectarian nor religious in content.”

He continued: “Given that the officer expressed a clear view on what it meant, presumably in the specific context of the football match, it was hardly legitimate for the PFD to request the sheriff to ignore this evidence on the basis of contrary judicial knowledge.”

Asking whether the term’s meaning was within judicial knowledge, Lord Carloway said: “As was said in PF Glasgow v Ward (2021), [judicial knowledge is] ‘facts which are common knowledge, either in the sense that every well informed person knows them or that they are generally accepted by informed persons and can be ascertained by consulting appropriate works of reference’.”

He went on to say: “The answer to the first question, of whether every well-informed person knows that ‘hun’ refers to Protestants generally, as distinct from Rangers fans in particular, must be in the negative. Unless it is to be assumed that the police officer was an ignoramus, it is immediately clear that not every well-informed person is imbued with the relevant knowledge including police in the stadium.”

Lord Carloway concluded: “It was undoubtedly disputed that the appellant’s use of the term ‘hun’ in its particular context referred to Protestants as distinct from Rangers supporters. The evidence, such as it was, pointed to the latter. The term, as a reference to Protestants, is not ‘so notorious as to be indisputable’. That is essentially an end of the matter.”

The appellant was therefore successful in his challenge of the aggravation added onto his charge. 

Despite this, the appeal court did not alter his sentence. It was held that the initial penalty was modest for the associated charge and as such was deemed appropriate for the amended conviction.