Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 25 October 2014

Keith Gillespie in dock after arrest over court 'snub'

Keith Gillespie at Newtownards Magistrates Court
Keith Gillespie at Newtownards Magistrates Court

Retired Northern Ireland and Premier League footballer Keith Gillespie appeared in court in handcuffs yesterday after a judge ordered his arrest.

Throughout the two-minute hearing at Newtownards Magistrates Court 39-year-old former winger Gillespie remained handcuffed to a prison officer, speaking only to confirm his name.

A police officer told the court that he arrested Gillespie yesterday "by arrangement" on foot of a bench warrant issued on Thursday by District Judge Mark Hamill.

The ex-Manchester United, Newcastle United and Leicester City player, who is still a hero on the Windsor Park terraces, had been due to appear charged with breaching a non-molestation order on January 21 this year by being "in the vicinity of the Hamilton Road". That charge was put to Gillespie yesterday.

Solicitor Darren Duncan said Gillespie had failed to turn up to court as ordered because of an "oversight" on his part, believing that he was not due to appear until next month.

"The first he became aware (that he was due in court) was when he was contacted by a media outlet," said Mr Duncan, adding that Gillespie "immediately contacted our office" for the warrant to be executed.

Releasing Gillespie on his own bail of £400, Judge Hamill said he would put the non-appearance down to "miscommunication" but warned the former footballer to "make sure there are no more misunderstandings".

Declared bankrupt in 2010, Gillespie wrote in his autobiography How Not To Be A Football Millionaire that he had spent around £7m as part of a gambling addiction.

In his playing career Gillespie earned 86 caps for Northern Ireland, having made his debut in September 1994 in a 2-1 defeat to Portugal, and finished his international career in 2008. He played a a vital role in the famous 3-2 win against current World Cup and European Championship holders Spain at Windsor Park in September 2006 when David Healy scored a hat-trick.

Signed by Man United in 1991, Gillespie played for the Red Devils until he was sold to Newcastle in 1995 where he came close to winning the Premiership title under Kevin Keegan.

Following his spell there, Gillespie turned out for Leicester City, Blackburn Rovers, Sheffield United and Bradford City before making a shock move to east Belfast club Glentoran in 2009.

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