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 special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions