Police show football trial how floodlights were sabotaged

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The Independent Online
A MINIATURE mock-up of a football ground was used at a soccer match-fixing trial today to show how floodlights could be sabotaged. A police electronics expert used a remote-control unit commonly installed to open electric garage doors to control four small floodlights on the model.

Standing in the witness box, officer Mark Stokes pressed a button to switch the lights on and off during the second day of the trial. A team backed by a Far-Eastern syndicate is accused of tampering with the electrical system at the ground of former Premiership team Charlton Athletic in February this year. The syndicate allegedly planned to black-out the south London stadium in the middle of a match.

The syndicate is also accused of being behind two other abandoned matches in 1997, at the grounds of West Ham and Wimbledon, with the intention of collecting Far Eastern betting revenues.

After a covert police operation, four people were arrested outside Charlton's ground on February 10 - three days before a game against Liverpool. Electrical equipment including junction boxes, wire cutters and remote units were found in a car being driven by defendant Wai Yuen Liu, according to the counsel for the prosecution, Mark Dennis.

Four-foot-high floodlights, each with four small lamps, were fitted at the corners of the model, with wires trailing down over a table in front of the jury at Middlesex Guildhall Crown Court. Mr Stokes told the court: "We were able to actually turn off the lights at Charlton football club by just depressing a remote-control button."

A magazine cutting with information on a north-west London electrical store was also found in the car being driven by Liu, who had two Malaysian passengers, the court heard.

Two Malaysians and a security officer at Charlton Football Club, Roger Firth, 49, have admitted conspiracy to cause a public nuisance. Liu, 38, of Kensington, west London, has denied the charge.