Ex-Manchester United player Ronnie Wallwork has been sentenced to 15 months imprisonment for his part in a stolen high-performance car racket.
Police who had been investigating armed robberies across the Lancashire area discovered that the former midfielder was operating from a rented scrapyard unit in Newton Heath. Detectives found that Wallwork had sold a Volkswagen Touran engine and parts from a BMW 318i on eBay. He was also caught driving a Mazda Furano three days after it had been reported stolen.
The player pleaded guilty to three counts of handling stolen goods. Judge Simon Newell would not agree to a suspended jail term,feeling that Wallwork should be jailed for his actions.
He said: “These were high-value items that were stolen. It seems to me they were taken in a professional and sophisticated way. It also seems clear to me that they were taken to go into the black market either to be sold on or broken down and sold on. You provided the facility for that to happen. There was an element of organisation and sophistication in what went on.”
Rachel Woods, Wallwork’s defence counsel, said: “There was no evidence to suggest that the defendant was responsible for the organised thefts of the vehicles or had any input in that. These are not thefts to order. He was not using the garage to ring the vehicles through. He had clearly succumbed to temptation in a stage of his life when his finances had taken a dramatic turn for the worse.”
She told the court that Wallwork had a “promising career” as a professional footballer but it was “tragically cut short” when he was the victim of a serious assault about four years ago. Woods explained how the player had been stabbed in a bar and never fully recovered from the injuries:
“Mr Wallwork tried as best as he could to regain full fitness and resume his career but he was not able to fulfil the potential he had previously shown. It sadly led to the termination of his career. Thereafter he has struggled to find a proper path to continue with his life”.