Jail for footballer who lied to police

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Former Kettering Town and Northampton Town footballer Leon McKenzie has been jailed for six months after sending police bogus letters to avoid speeding convictions.

McKenzie, 33, was sentenced at Northampton Crown Court yesterday after admitting six charges of attempting to dodge speeding fines between February 2008 and January 2010.

The striker, who retired from professional football in December, was also banned from driving for 18 months after pleading guilty to charges of perverting the course of justice.

The court was told of McKenzie’s struggle with depression at the time of his offences, but Judge Richard Bray said this did not excuse his actions.

Sentencing McKenzie yesterday, Mr Bray said: “I give you credit for your pleas of guilty.

“This was repeated fraud committed over a period of time and in quite a sophisticated manner.

“You were prepared to pretend on each occasion that your car was at a garage which did not even exist.

“I bear in mind your background, your previous good character and the fact you had been suffering with depression, but a custodial sentence is necessary.

“It would send completely the wrong message to others if I was not to impose such a sentence.”

Several of McKenzie’s family and friends wept in the public gallery as his sentence was given.

He was supported in court by his uncle, former world champion boxer Duke McKenzie, and Cobblers defender Clarke Carlisle, chairman of the Professional Footballers Association, who both pleaded with Mr Bray to consider the defendant’s good character.

McKenzie, of Rectory Farm, Northampton, was arrested and charged when false documents were sent to Northamptonshire Police to dodge six speeding fines between February 2008 and January 2010.

The letters, printed with the address of a fictional garage in London, claimed his car was off the road when he was caught speeding.

Mckenzie even tried to convince the DVLA of his innocence by including fake invoices with the letters.

Four of his six speeding fines had been issued for exceeding the speed limit in a 30mph zone.

He was also caught doing 58mph in a road where the speed limit was 40mph.

Claire Howell, prosecuting, said: “Because of the speeds, all of his offences would have led to three points being added to his licence.

“He would have been eligible for disqualification.”