Witness 'out to get Grobbelaar'

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The Independent Online
A former friend and business partner of the footballer Bruce Grobbelaar "turned like a viper" and tried to destroy him by telling a tabloid newspaper of his alleged fixing of football matches, a court was told yesterday.

Christopher Vincent admitted his aim was to make himself rich and crush Mr Grobbelaar after the pair fell out over a safari tour business.

Mr Vincent, a fellow Zimbabwean, also admitted under cross-examination that a book deal on the alleged betting scandal on football matches depended on the conviction of the defendants, and that he also hoped to sign a pounds 100,000 deal with ITV after the trial.

Rodney Klevan QC, for Mr Grobbelaar, asked if Vincent's intention was to "become as rich as possible while Grobbelaar was ground down". Mr Vincent replied: "Correct, sir." He wanted to "totally destroy" the former Liverpool and Southampton goalkeeper who now plays for Plymouth Argyle.

When Mr Grobbelaar refused to add to the pounds 65,000 which he had invested in Vincent's business, the businessman "turned like a viper" on a man who had been the best of friends to him, said Mr Klevan.

On the fifth day of the trial at Winchester Crown Court in which Mr Grobbelaar, former footballers Hans Segers and John Fashanu, and a Malaysian businessman Heng Lim are accused of corruptly trying to influence football matches, Mr Vincent admitted he had been involved with four companies which had either collapsed or ceased trading.

The defence counsel said that Mr Vincent, who received pounds 35,000 from The Sun for his story, stood to make pounds 76,000 from a book called Betrayal of Trust, and hoped for pounds 100,000 from ITV and other money from possible film and television deals. Mr. Vincent accepted that if none of the defendants was convicted then because of a clause in the book deal "all would be lost" financially.

The trial continues today.