A footballer has escaped an immediate jail sentence after admitting to handling over £2,500 in counterfeit £50 bank notes.
Joshua Macann, a former Norwich City trainee who later played for Boston United’s youth team, blamed a gambling addiction for his involvement in crime saying his world fell apart when his dream of being a professional footballer ended.
Macann, 24, of Oaklands, Halfpenny Lane, Beetley, Norfolk, had previously admitted a counterfeit currency offence under section six of the Fraud Act.
He was given an 18 month jail sentence suspended for two years with 60 hours of unpaid work and a 10 day rehabilitation activity requirement.
Judge Andrew Easteal, passing sentence at Lincoln Crown Court, also imposed a prohibited activity requirement banning Macann from any gambling establishment for two years and from betting in any other way.
The judge told Macann “Online, lottery, everything - don’t gamble. It is an addiction that won’t go away. You have to fight it every day.
“Your behaviour was out of control. Your gambling addiction was running riot but during the time since you have had the courage to actually stop and see what harm you are doing everybody around you.”
At an earlier hearing the court was told that Macann spiralled in to debt after his dream of being a professional footballer came to an end at the age of 17 because he was not tall enough.
The court heard gambling was “prevalent” among Macann’s footballing friends and by August 2016 when he committed the counterfeit currency offence he was going online and visiting both casinos and bookmakers.
Macann was linked to the cash after he sent increasingly desperate texts demanding the return of the 51 counterfeit notes when they were held by another man.
Ian Way, prosecuting, said one of the messages read: “If you don’t get them back to me, you owe me, I’m coming round to your house now.”
Another read that “he’d sold them, and needed them back.”
The court heard Macann carried out the counterfeit money offence while serving a six month suspended prison sentence passed at Lincoln Crown Court in March 2016 for dangerous driving.
Lisa Hardy, mitigating, told the court there had been a long delay in the money case coming to court during which time Macann had completed the unpaid work from his suspended sentence and turned his life around.
Miss Hardy said: “He has got to accept 51 notes is not a small amount, there is the potential for them to be distributed.”
But Miss Hardy added: “In August 2016 he was suffering with a gambling addiction.
“At 17 he was on a professional football scholarship with Norwich, he was doing well and hoped to be a professional footballer.
“At 17 he was dropped by Norwich because he was not tall enough, he was a goalkeeper, and his life fell apart.
“It was a blow to his self esteem and left him with idle hands. He had been mixing with other lads in the football environment where gambling is prevalent, and was not helped by the fact his grandfather was also a professional gambler.
“He started dabbling, in casinos, online, bookmakers, and built up substantial debts.”
Miss Hardy said Macann still saw gambling as a problem and has referred himself for help.
She added: “This has taken since August 2016 to come to court and he is now a different man. He is now a proud dad and works full time as a roofer with his partner controlling the purse strings.”