A FORMER Tottenham Hotspur soccer player has been jailed for two years with the final year suspended, after admitting stealing €11,000 to pay off a drug debt to a Limerick crime family.
Denis Igoe (26) of Station Court, Ennis pleaded guilty at Limerick Circuit Court to 25 counts of theft.
His victims were elderly and vulnerable, ranging in age from 65 to 91 years.
Igoe went on a three-week crime thieving spree between last February and March to pay off the drug debt.
The court heard that during a 2011 game against Aston Villa, Igoe scored twice for a Spurs youth team, but, in the same match, he suffered a career-ending leg injury which led to him returning to his family in Ireland where he got a job as a salesman with PhoneWatch.
Reviewing the evidence, Judge Tom O’Donnell said that Igoe became the firm’s top sales person but he developed a serious cocaine addiction and his life spiralled out of control.
He lost his job due to circumstances not disclosed in court.
Unknown to his former employer, he called to the homes of ten PhoneWatch customers in Limerick, Tipperary and Cork, and convinced them to purchase what they thought were upgrades to their security plans or additional home security products.
The customers gave Igoe their bank cards thinking they had made purchases on a handheld lodgement device, when in fact he used an app on his mobile phone to scan the bank card details, including the PIN number.
He would keep the customer’s bank card, give them a false receipt and hand them back a bank card belonging to a previous victim.
By the time the customer noticed they had the wrong card, Igoe had withdraw cash from their account.
In one incident Igoe called to he home of a 81-year old nun, and having stolen her bank card, he used it to withdraw €2,100 in cash. He also used the card to purchase jewellery worth €1,750.
The victims were considerably worried about the loss of their money in the early stages, but they were eventually reimbursed by their banks.
“There was also reputational damage to PhoneWatch,” the judge added
After his arrest he co-operated with Gardaí and admitted his crimes.
In a letter to the court, Igoe described how he developed a cocaine addiction and owed a drug debt to “a well feared family in Limerick” who threatened him and his family if he didn’t clear the debt.
Gardaí accepted that the threats to Igoe were legitimate, and he was “under pressure” to quickly find money to pay the criminals. He had collected over €10,000 to reimburse the banks.
Holding a set of rosary beads and a prayer card during the hearing, he apologised to his victims and the court.
Imposing a sentence of two years in prison, with the final 12 months suspended, Judge O’Donnell backdated the sentence to March 6 when Igoe was arrested and held in custody without bail.