Ex-Man Utd player to be sentenced
A former Manchester United footballer who descended from a Premier League career to breaking up stolen car parts in a rented scrapyard unit in just two years is due to be sentenced.
Police stumbled upon the operation of Ronnie Wallwork, 34, while investigating a string of unconnected armed robberies across Lancashire, one of which led to the shooting of a security guard.
The main targets of the North West Regional Crime Squad were career criminals Craig Bulger and Mark Cain - who shot the guard several times at a Tesco branch in Preston. Bulger, 51, was tracked to a scrapyard in Manchester where Wallwork came to the attention of the authorities in 2010 as the site became the focus of heavy surveillance.
Wallwork, from Failsworth, pleaded guilty to three counts of receiving stolen goods at an earlier hearing and will be sentenced at Preston Crown Court.
His best friend, Siobhan Johnstone, 34, of Newton Heath, was cleared last month of handling the same stolen goods. She had sold a Volkswagen Touran engine and car parts from a BMW 318i on eBay on behalf of Wallwork who kept her in the dark about where they had come from. A Mazda Furano was also parked on her driveway at the ex-footballer's request.
The VW Touran had been stolen from an address in Worsley, the BMW worth £15,000 was taken from Wigan and the Mazda worth £16,000 was stolen from outside Nidd Vale garage in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. The red Mazda found its way the following day to 10 Arches scrapyard in Manchester where Wallwork was based, Johnstone's trial jury heard.
In June, Preston Crown Court heard Cain, 48, of Ashfield Rise, Catterall, held a gun to the security guard's head at the branch of Tesco in Fulwood in March 2010. He then shot at the guard several times, seriously injuring him. The guard spent six months in hospital receiving treatment for his injuries.
Cain and Bulger, of Scotland Hall Road, Newton Heath, were both given indeterminate sentences with minimum terms of more than seven years after admitting armed robbery and possessing firearms.
Wallwork, who represented England at Under-20 level, joined United as a trainee in 1993 but struggled to command a first team place and was loaned to a number of clubs before he joined West Bromwich Albion in 2002.
Loan periods at Bradford City, Barnsley and Huddersfield Town followed before he moved to Sheffield Wednesday in 2008 where he made just seven appearances.