Belfast Telegraph

Footballer kicked off NI homeless side jailed for reoffending

By Nevin Farrell

A footballer with 115 convictions whose offending meant he missed out on representing Northern Ireland in the 'Homeless World Cup' over the summer has been jailed for five months.

David Given Surgenor (22), of the Lighthouse hostel at Linenhall Street in Ballymena, had been on the verge of representing the province in a popular tournament which uses football to inspire homeless people to change their lives.

However, Surgenor failed to make the team, which came 13th out of 44 in Glasgow, after drinking and re-offending.

In August, Surgenor received a suspended jail term after he rang police and invited them to the Co Antrim village of Ahoghill for a "stand-off" when he falsely claimed to have a sawn-off shotgun and a 9mm handgun.

Surgenor said he would "blow them away" and shouted: "Up the UDA."

When police arrived Surgenor resisted arrest and damaged a police vehicle.

He pleaded guilty to several charges including sending messages of a "menacing character" via a phone.

Within weeks he re-offended by obstructing a road in Ballymena with a roadworks safety barrier. He was also disorderly and resisted a police officer.

In relation to those offences, Surgenor avoided being fitted with an electronic tag after he told a court the device would impact on him playing football.

Surgenor was back in trouble on September 1 when he assaulted a man, assaulted a policewoman and caused criminal damage to a police cell van.

After officers heard "running water" they noticed Surgenor had urinated - which left the PSNI with a £170 clean-up bill.

Defence barrister Andrew Moriarty said the defendant, who appeared at the court via videolink from HMP Maghaberry, had been looking forward to representing Northern Ireland.

However, "the old demons surfaced and they pulled him back into the abyss", the lawyer said.

He added: "What could have been a promising soccer career never materialised and unfortunately never will".

Jailing Surgenor for five months, District Judge Peter King said he had potential but was a persistent offender and he had a duty to protect the public.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph