Former footballer Leon McKenzie jailed for attempting to dodge driving ban

 

Former Norwich City striker Leon McKenzie has been jailed for sending bogus letters to the police in a bid to avoid a driving ban.

The 33-year-old, of Northampton, was sentenced to six months in prison after admitting sending the letters to Northamptonshire Police in an attempt to avoid speeding convictions.

Sentencing the former Premiership footballer at Northampton Crown Court today, Judge Richard Bray said: "A custodial sentence is necessary for this type of offence which strikes right at the heart of justice.

"It would completely send out the wrong message if I did not hand out a custodial sentence."

McKenzie, who retired from professional football in December, was also handed a 18-month driving ban.

McKenzie admitted six charges of perverting the course of justice at a hearing earlier this year after sending letters to Northamptonshire Police to avoid six speeding fines between February 2008 and December 2009.

The letters, purporting to be from a fictional garage in London, claimed McKenzie's car was off the road.

In mitigation, Andrew McGee, defending, told the court today that the former striker, who started his career with Crystal Palace and had played for Northampton and Norwich, was known to be a person of good character who had, at the time of the offence, been suffering from depression, resulting in him attempting to take his own life at the end of 2009.

Acting as a character witness today, the father-of-four's uncle, Duke McKenzie, a former championship boxer, told the court he too had suffered from depression.

"People think we live these glamorous lifestyles but we're under the same pressures.

"It mounts up if things are not going your way."

Clarke Carlisle, chairman of the Professional Footballers' Association, said McKenzie's story had resulted in him seeking help for his own depression.

Carlisle, who is on loan to Northampton Town from Burnley, said he and McKenzie had been working with other players who had since come forward with depression through the PFA.

Sentencing McKenzie, who wore a grey suit, pinstripe shirt and silver tie, Judge Richard Bray gave the former footballer credit for his early guilty plea but said a custodial sentence was inevitable.

As family and friends sobbed in the public gallery, Mr Bray said that, although he was aware McKenzie had suffered from depression, he had committed "professional fraud".

"You were prepared to pretend that your car was in a garage that didn't exist.

"I can't excuse the offences.

"A custodial sentence is necessary for this type of offence which strikes right at the heart of justice.

"It would completely send out the wrong message if I did not hand out a custodial sentence."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Sport
Two christmas trees ,Moonbeam (2L), Moonchester (2R) and Santa Claus outside the Etihad Stadium
footballAll the action from today's games
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drink
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas