Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 25 October 2014

McKenzie jailed for ban dodge bid

Leon McKenzie has been jailed and banned from driving after sending bogus letters to police

Former Norwich City striker Leon McKenzie has been jailed for sending bogus letters to the police in a bid to avoid a driving ban.

The 33-year-old, of Northampton, was sentenced to six months in prison after admitting sending the letters to Northamptonshire Police in an attempt to avoid speeding convictions.

In a statement released after he was sentenced, the ex-Premiership footballer, who has now started a new career in music, said he had various work and personal problems at the time and "couldn't always make sense of what was going on".

He went on: "Unfortunately at that time I fell deep into depression, which led me to try and take my life. Around that period I wasn't thinking straight, and got caught up with the wrong people around me. My behaviour towards certain things like these speeding offences were (sic) totally unacceptable and very naive of me to allow a third party to take my points for me.

"I allowed someone to take my points innocently, not knowing the seriousness of what was actually happening."

McKenzie admitted six charges of perverting the course of justice at a hearing earlier this year after sending letters to Northamptonshire Police to avoid six speeding fines between February 2008 and December 2009. The letters, purporting to be from a fictional garage in London, claimed McKenzie's car was off the road.

In mitigation, Andrew McGee, defending, told the court that the former striker, who started his career with Crystal Palace and had played for Northampton and Norwich, was known to be a person of good character who had, at the time of the offence, been suffering from depression and at the end of 2009 tried to commit suicide.

In his statement, father-of-four McKenzie said he wished he could turn the clock back but was told at the time of his arrest a year ago that if he answered all questions truthfully he would be given a caution and not charged - a decision that was reversed five months later.

Sentencing him at Northampton Crown Court, Judge Richard Bray said: "A custodial sentence is necessary for this type of offence which strikes right at the heart of justice.It would completely send out the wrong message if I did not hand out a custodial sentence."

McKenzie, who retired from professional football in December, was also handed a 18-month driving ban.

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