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Lavish lifestyle of fraudster Medi Abalimba posing as Chelsea player

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Former professional footballer Medi Abalimba at the time of his arrest

Former professional footballer Medi Abalimba at the time of his arrest

PA

Former professional footballer Medi Abalimba at the time of his arrest

Manchester: A failed footballer who enjoyed a Champagne lifestyle by pretending to be a Premier League star has been jailed for four years for a £163,000 fraud.

Medi Abalimba (25) had earned around £20,000 a week at one stage with Derby County, but slipped down the leagues through lack of discipline and commitment.

He continued living the high life by passing himself off as Chelsea player Gael Kakuta, staying in the best rooms in the finest hotels in London, running up bar tabs of thousands of pounds and being chauffeur-driven around in a Bentley, Manchester Crown Court heard.

Abalimba would swan into nightclubs, pre-warned that a VIP was on the way, accompanied by an "entourage" of drivers, bodyguards and sometimes young women, blowing thousands of pounds in Champagne at the bar, paid for using stolen credit card details.

He had stints as a professional player with Derby, Oldham Athletic, Southend United, Fulham and Crystal Palace and once commanded a transfer fee of more than £1m.

Today he is starting a four-year jail term after admitting 12 offences of fraud and dishonesty, in London, West Yorkshire, Manchester and Derby.

He had 19 other offences taken into consideration, totalling a loss to those defrauded of £163,000.

Abalimba carried out the frauds by gaining access to a gym in Camden, north London, called Coram's Fields. He obtained a master key to the lockers and would rifle through the belongings, taking photos on his phone of American Express card numbers, which he then gave to pay for his spending - and hoped there would be enough credit on the cards he was fraudulently using.

The court heard that in February this year he met a woman called Kimberley O'Connor while out clubbing in Newcastle.

He convinced Miss O'Connor that he was Gael Kakuta, but said he could not use his own credit cards as he was supposed to be on loan with a club in Italy - and not in the UK. Promising he was good for the money as a wealthy footballer, he used her credit cards to rack up a bill of £4,633 at a spa and also used her card to hire a Range Rover at a cost of £2,397.

The court heard that with no assets or cash to his name there is no opportunity for financial compensation for his victims.

EU must do more in Ebola fight: PM

Brussels: David Cameron is to urge fellow EU leaders to do more to tackle Ebola in west Africa, warning that failure to halt the killer disease there would risk future cases in Europe.

And he will also use a European Council leaders’ summit in Brussels to set his face against MEPs’ demands for more money for the EU budget.

He will speak out as the World Heath Organisation said that 4,800 people had died from Ebola. The meeting looks set to be overshadowed by talks scheduled for Friday among the 18 eurozone states over the latest crisis in the European single currency. Mr Cameron will not take part in the eurozone discussions, but will make clear to fellow leaders that Britain is “not immune” to the impact of the decisions they make, because of the knock-on effect on UK manufacturing and exports.

With £125 million pledged, Britain is by far the largest European donor to the fight against Ebola, and other EU states have so far failed to meet the Prime Minister’s challenge — in a letter to fellow leaders last week — to provide a total of €1bn (£790m) and 2,000 medical workers to tackle the outbreak.

Top brass criticise Afghan campaign

London: British commanders have given a damning assessment of the military campaign in Afghanistan, admitting that at times troops were so stretched there was a risk they would be “massacred”.

Senior figures including three former service chiefs have criticised planning and strategic errors in a BBC2 documentary to mark the withdrawal of forces. The UK is said to have committed to a role in Afghanistan in 2004 despite already being heavily engaged in Iraq and knowing two major campaigns could not be sustained for any length of time.

General Sir Peter Wall, who served as Chief of the General Staff between 2010 and 2014, said: “We had put forward a plan saying that for the limited objectives that we had set ourselves, this was a reasonable force. And I freely admit now, that calculus was wrong.”

The programme was told that by 2005 it was clear the situation in Iraq was getting worse, but the following year 3,300 troops were deployed to Helmand province.

The editor who helped bring down Richard Nixon dies at 93

Washington: Ben Bradlee, the hard-charging editor who guided The Washington Post through its Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the Watergate scandal that brought down President Richard Nixon, has died.

Mr Bradlee died at his home of natural causes, the paper said.

As managing editor first and later as executive editor, raspy-voiced Mr Bradlee (93) engineered the transformation of the Post from a sleepy home town paper into a great national.

He was one of the few to know the identity early on of the celebrated Watergate source dubbed Deep Throat, finally revealed publicly in 2005 as FBI official Mark Felt.

Huge dinosaur resembled an ostrich, duck and camel

Mongolia: Imagine a creature the size of a London bus, looking like a cross between an ostrich, a duck and a camel.

Scientists had wondered about Deinocheirus mirificus for 50 years after finding two of its huge arms. Now a pair of new skeletons unearthed in Mongolia have allowed them to assemble the missing pieces of the puzzle.

It had a number of unique features — including an elongated, duck-like snout and a humped back. The creature may have used its “bill” to forage for food at the bottom of streams.

Syria: we have destroyed two of three IS fighter jets

Syria: The Syrian air force has destroyed two of three jets seized and reportedly test flown over Aleppo by the Islamic State (IS) group last week, according to the country’s information minister.

Omran al-Zoubi told Syrian TV that Syrian aircraft bombed the jets as they were landing at Jarrah airbase in the east of Aleppo province.

He said the militants were able to hide a third jet, which the Syrian air force is now searching for. The report could not be independently confirmed, and US officials said they had no reports of the militants flying jets.

Belfast Telegraph