Court hears former Ballymena United footballer has had a ‘significant fall from grace’ but his life is now ‘back on track’

A FORMER Ballymena United footballer given a suspended jail sentence for a shoplifting offence and possessing non-prescribed Diazepam has had, what a judge described as, a “significant fall from grace”.

District Judge Nigel Broderick was speaking at Ballymena Magistrates Court to Jamie Davidson (26), of Millfield in Ballymena, who pleaded guilty to offences relating to the run up to Christmas last year.

The defendant, a former Ballymena United footballer, once attracted the attention of scouts from Premier League Liverpool and Spurs before being injured.

The court heard he stole two bottles of aftershave worth £157 from ‘Boots’ in the Tower Centre in Ballymena on December 16, 2019, and when he was arrested the following day he was in possession of four Diazepam.

Defence solicitor John McAtamney said that although a suspended sentence was active at the time of the offences, there had been no further offences committed in the last ten months.

The lawyer said there had been a “relapse” in offending in the run up to last Christmas.

He said the defendant had previously developed an addiction to prescription medication leading to a series of thefts in 2016 and 2017 but is now about to re-start work and has his “life back on track”.

Judge Broderick told Davidson, who was before the court via a video link from the solicitor’s office: “You are well-known to the courts, unfortunately”.

He added: “You have had a significant fall from grace because you were a talented footballer but obviously an addiction to drugs, combined with other problems, have led you to being before the court on a number of occasions”.

Judge Broderick said Davidson had an “atrocious record” for theft and had previously been in prison.

He said because the defendant is now in employment he would provide him with a “last chance” to stay out of prison.

Davidson was given a six months prison term, suspended for two years, and ordered to pay £157 compensation for the stolen goods.

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