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Footballer whose career was cut short by injury jailed for burglary and knifepoint robbery

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Colin Crawford's lawyer said his client was addressing his drug problems in custody

Colin Crawford's lawyer said his client was addressing his drug problems in custody

Colin Crawford's lawyer said his client was addressing his drug problems in custody

A one-time potential Premier League footballer turned drug addict was jailed yesterday for a spate of offences including robbing a taxi driver at knifepoint.

Judge Stephen Fowler QC imposed a total sentence of six-and-a-half years on Colin Crawford, divided equally between prison and licence.

The 32-year-old, from Monkscoole House in Newtownabbey, was sentenced for five sets of offences committed between November 2018 and May 2020.

Defence barrister Kieran Mallon QC said his client committed the crimes in a difficult period of his life brought on by drug use. He added he was addressing these issues in custody.

Judge Fowler said Crawford had linked his drug problems to the disappointment he faced after his promising career was cut short by injury.

The defendant, who has spent most of lockdown in custody, pleaded guilty to 14 offences at Belfast Crown Court, including breaking into homes, burgling a property and returning a second time to remove more items, stealing £90 from a Belfast taxi driver at knifepoint and being one of two men who robbed a Spar in Newtownabbey on November 9, 2018.

He also targeted three homes in Newtownabbey in the early hours of January 29, 2019, in what Judge Fowler described as "creeper-style" burglaries. 

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While no one was injured in these incidents, the judge said they would have "shocking and terrifying" for the householders.

Separately, in the early hours of May 6, 2019, a man walking along Bedford Street in Belfast accepted a lift from Crawford.

After driving a short distance, the defendant stopped the car, produced a wheel jack and threatened his passenger, who handed over his bank card, phone and cash.

Two weeks later, after flagging down a taxi on the city Shore Road, he produced a knife and threatened the driver, who handed over £90.

On May 17 last year, Crawford broke into a house on Divis Street and stole items including a TV, before returning to load more stolen possessions into a car and smashing the property’s CCTV system.

Judge Fowler said that while Crawford's offending was serious, he had taken his guilty pleas into account.

The defendant’s barrister said substance abuse was at the heart of his client’s offending.

He added: [He has] adopted a very positive attitude [in prison]. He has sought to make a clean breast of his involvement with criminality and has stated a desire to start afresh when he is released from custody."


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