Former Norwich City striker Leon McKenzie jailed over speeding ticket scam
Former Norwich City footballer Leon McKenzie has been jailed for six months after admitting perverting the course of justice over a speeding ticket scam.
The 33-year-old was sentenced at Northampton Crown Court today (Tuesday) for sending a series of bogus letters to police in an effort to avoid six speeding convictions.
Judge Richard Bray, who also banned McKenzie from driving for 18 months, said: 'These offences strike right at the heart of justice. It would send completely the wrong message not to pass a custodial sentence.'
McKenzie, who retired from professional football in December, said he was suffering from depression around the time the offences were committed.
He was arrested and charged after false documents were sent to Northamptonshire Police between February 2008 and January 2010. The letters, purporting to be from a fictional garage in London, claimed McKenzie's car was off the road undergoing mechanical repairs when he was caught speeding.
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When originally arrested on suspicion of perverting the course of justice, the former Canaries striker made a full confession on the understanding he would receive a caution.
But after a protracted series of court hearings, his caution was withdrawn by Northamptonshire Police because it had been issued without the case being referred to the Crown Prosecution Service, which is compulsory for all indictable (Crown court) offences.
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The former Norwich, Northampton and Crystal Palace player subsequently pleaded guilty to the six charges, which relate to separate occasions over a two-year period.
The court had previously heard McKenzie, of Rectory Farm, Northampton, has been working with the Professional Footballers' Association to help others battling depression.
In a pre-prepared statement, McKenzie said: 'A few years ago, I was not in a good place and couldn't always make sense of what was going on. Unfortunately at that time I fell deep into depression, which led me to try and take my life.
'Around that period I wasn't thinking straight, and got caught up with the wrong people around me. My behaviour towards certain things like these speeding offences were totally unacceptable and very naive of me to allow a third party to take my points for me.
'I am truly sorry for these offences that I committed. I must stress to you all, I was not representing the real me back then and realise how stupid I have been.
'It took a lot to speak out publicly about trying to end my life and now turning it around, helping others with issues of depression and starting a new career in music. I feel like I have given back in a lot of ways and will continue to do so as soon as I possibly can.
'I ask anyone with depression to speak out to someone before you start making any mistakes like I did.
'I would like to say a massive thanks to my family and friends for the support they have given me, especially while this has been going on for so long.'
McKenzie, 33, was supported in court by his uncle, former world champion boxer Duke McKenzie and former So Solid Crew rapper MC Harvey.