A BUILDER from Sidcup has been given a suspended prison sentence for leaving racially abusive messages on a Greenwich-born footballer’s answer phone while drunk.

Stuart Gilroy, 29, got hold of Macclesfield Town player and assistant manager Efe Sodje’s mobile number through a friend-of-a-friend.

He then left three separate messages on July 21 last year at 1.48am, 2.16am and 2.17am while onlookers could be heard sniggering in the background.

Bromley Magistrates’ Court heard on January 29 how Gilroy, of Stanhope Road, Sidcup, repeatedly swore in the messages which contained a string of racist abuse aimed at former Nigerian international defender Sodje.

Gilroy was sentenced to four weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months.

Afterwards, defence solicitor Christiana Briscoe told the court Gilroy had received death threats since the story first appeared in News Shopper.

She said: “He’s been receiving very similar threats to the ones he made and his father has moved him away from the area until this has died down.

“In many respects he has lost his family. His sister is a nurse who has dedicated her life to the NHS.

"She has worked with migrants coming into this country and she has refused point-blank to have anything to do with him.

“He has two brothers, one of whom is a banker and who has simply disowned him and will have absolutely nothing to do with him.”

Gilroy’s father Gary was in court to support his son, who was employed by his Sidcup-based building company GCG Contractors until news of the incident broke.

Ms Briscoe told the court the firm has a number of black labourers who “downed tools” and refused to work until the defendant was sacked.

He has since been dismissed from the firm.

District Judge Robert Hunter said: “I know this has had disastrous consequences for you in a personal way.

“Your family have shunned you because of this stupid drunken series of communications.

“I know this is out of character and you have no previous convictions.”

In a statement read to the court Sodje, who played for his country against England at the 2002 World Cup, said: “No person has the right to racially abuse me and threaten me or my family in this way.

“These messages have left me worried for my safety and worried for the safety of my family.

“My main concern is I don’t know who these people are or what they are capable of.”

Gilroy, who has written a letter of apology to Sodje, pleaded guilty on January 17 to three charges of leaving voicemail messages of a grievously offensive, indecent, obscene or menacing character under the Telecommunications Act.

He was ordered to pay his victim £250 compensation, pay £85 costs and do 200 hours of unpaid work.