|"Treasure Hunt": Newton|
Former football star Shaun Newton has been convicted of burgling a neighbour after a jury rejected his claim he was high on cocaine and obsessed with a bizarre fortieth birthday treasure-hunt.
The ex-West Ham United and Charlton Athletic midfielder, 41, was caught by the occupant rummaging through the man’s belongings, claiming he was looking for car keys when challenged.
Camberwell-born father-of-three Newton, of Glenister Park Road, Streatham, who also represented England’s U-21’s, has been ordered to complete 100 hours community service.
“He is at a crossroads and his friendship circle tell him he is a superstar and does not need guidance or support,” said Mr. Alex Radley, defending.
“He certainly has not found his feet after football. It is a massive change to his lifestyle and he now lives a day-to-day hand-to-mouth existence.”
Newton, who lives off £1,000 per month rent from two Bow properties, was also ordered to pay £1500 costs an £85 victim surcharge and was fined £200 for jumping bail earlier this year.
“It’s clear you were high on cocaine and alcohol and maybe that’s why you committed the burglary,” Kingston-upon-Thames Crown Court Recorder Ian Peddie QC told Newton yesterday.
|Dinner Time: Samuel Mintah|
“Fortunately nothing was taken and in the witness box you gave a bizarre account of your actions, enough to cause the jury and myself to be concerned about your mental health.”
Football bad-boy Newton, who also played for Wolverhampton Wanderers, was suspended for seven months in 2006 after testing positive for cocaine after West Ham’s FA Cup semi-final victory over Middlesbrough.
In 2008 he received a suspended prison sentence for perverting the course of justice after accepting money from England forwards Teddy Sheringham and Bobby Zamora in exchange for ‘losing’ their speeding tickets.
He was arrested when police were called to the Miles Road, Mitcham house on May 15, last year, where upstairs occupant Samuel Mintah was enjoying his evening meal at 6pm.
“I saw someone open the door and come in and start searching my bags,” he explained.
“I said: ‘What are you doing?’ and he said he was looking for a friend’s car key and I told him his friend does not live in this house.
“He started searching. He was going through items by the window as well as the bags on the floor.
“I became enraged and said: ’No! Your friend isn’t living here, this is my room.”
Mr. Mintah called down for another resident, Martin Amunkwaa, to call the police. “The man then wanted to slip away and was begging me to let him go.
“I blocked the way and we waited for the police to come.
“He was very calm and looked like someone who had not slept for some time.”
|Break-In: Miles Road|
Newton told the jury his fortieth birthday celebration was a wild year-long affair and the day of his arrest was no exception.
“It was along weekend and I was tired and disorientated and confused by the tricks that were played on me at the time.
“I was led to believe there was a car, a Range Rover or whatever, and I was hunting for it. I pulled apart my whole house looking for keys.
“There were things in my house leading me to number plates, stuff like that and I was led to believe I had to do certain things like breaking glass.”
As a result Newton admits he threw two bricks at the windows of a stranger’s parked Porsche. “They just bounced off.
“I was in some treasure hunt or I thought I was,” added Newton.
“I thought that was where my friend lives, I’d been up a couple of days anyway and I was let in by a man who was on the phone.
|Playing Pomp: Newton|
“I went upstairs and I was sure the keys were on the windowsill and I was looking for the rest of the clues to solve the puzzle I thought I was in.
“I searched around and I thought the man in the room was part of what was going on until he grabbed hold of me.
“I apologised, I put my hands up and said I had made a mistake and had not done anything wrong.”
Prosecutor Mr. Richard Witcombe told the court Newton had his hood up as he roamed around the property, having leaned in and taken the front door keys from inside the kitchen window.
“He was giving the impression he had every right to be in the room even though the occupant did not know who on earth he was.”
The same occupant saw his set of keys in Newton’s hand after he was confronted upstairs.