Ex-West Ham player Kevin Nolan 'inadvertent middle man in Christmas hamper scam'
Former Premier League footballer Kevin Nolan was an inadvertent "middle man" in a Christmas hamper con in which West Ham players and staff lost thousands of pounds, a court has heard.
The ex-West Ham midfielder told Snaresbrook Crown Court he had been passed the details of a hamper salesman called "Mark Kingston" by a nightclub manager friend of his.
The 34-year-old paid £920 for two Harrods hampers and 25 bottles of champagne which he never received.
Stephen Ackerman, 48, is accused of defrauding potential England football manager Sam Allardyce and 12 other former and current West Ham players and staff, including England striker Andy Carroll, out of thousands of pounds by selling them hampers which were never delivered.
Ackerman, of Loughton, Essex, denies 18 fraud charges, with the proceeds amounting to a total of around £61,560.
It is alleged he appeared at the club's training ground on December 12 2014 using the alias Mark Kingston.
Nolan, who was West Ham captain at the time, told the court he was given the details of Mr Kingston by Scott Cummings, who runs the Club 195 bar in Epping.
He said: "He made me aware of him and I passed his details on to (player liaison officer) Tim De'Ath. It was a fella called Mark.
"Basically, it was just that Mark sold luxury hampers and he would like to come into the training ground - that's something which is quite common in our place, round Christmas time we have a lot of people come in."
Asked by prosecutor Richard Milne if he was a "sort of a middle man", Nolan replied: "Yes".
Nolan added that Mr De'Ath was responsible for handling the arrangements.
"Normally he'd do a vetting process and make sure everything was fine," he said.
The player described the salesman as being in his mid-40s, having dark hair, and wearing a grey flat cap.
He said he spoke with him only briefly as he ordered the hampers before setting off for the airport en route to the club's Premier League match with Sunderland the following day.
The court also heard that former West Ham defender Joey O'Brien paid £1,200 on a credit card for two hampers and 20 bottles of Laurent Perrier rose champagne on December 12.
He said he noticed that two additional payments totalling £780 had left his account when he checked his statement several days later.
He said: "I did not know anything about those on my bank statement until I checked.
"I knew they were not made by me so I contacted the bank to cancel the card."
He described the salesman as "smartly dressed" and wearing a "smart watch".
The player said he spoke to him for only a few minutes and could not remember if he had been asked to attend an identity parade.
Mr Allardyce, who is in talks with the Football Association about becoming England's next manager, previously told jurors he had lost £13,270 in the alleged scam.
He described the man who conned him as "extremely smart" and a "good salesman".
The defence argue that Ackerman, who was picked out by Mr De'Ath in an identity parade, was not the man who purported to be Mark Kingston.
Mr De'Ath, when asked if it was "embarrassing" that he had been the person who arranged for the salesman to come into the club, said: "Not really because it was not me - it was Mr Nolan that told me to get him in."
The court also heard how Mr De'Ath was sent a picture of the man, who the sender identified as Ackerman, over a month before he attended a police identity parade.
Defence counsel Michael Gumulka asked if he had mistakenly identified Ackerman as the man in the photo but not the man who was at the training ground.
Mr De'Ath replied: "I disagree with that 100%."