Ex-Celtic player Andre Blackman in court for shoplifting

Andre Blackman in action for Celtic in 2011. Picture: JP

Andre Blackman in action for Celtic in 2011. Picture: JP

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A former Celtic star tried to avoid performing unpaid work for shoplifting from Harrods - after claiming it would disrupt his search for a new club.

Andre Blackman, 24, who now plays for Championship side Blackpool FC, stole a jacket worth more than £1,000 from the store in Knightsbridge.

Blackman, who has been told he is ‘surplus to requirements’ by Tangerines boss Lee Clark, described the offence as a ‘moment of madness.’

He was ordered to carry out 40 hours of unpaid work after Hammersmith Magistrates’ Court was told he fled from the shop with the £1,225 jacket.

He was arrested shortly afterwards and the jacket was recovered.

Blackman told Deputy District Judge Samantha Mace: “It was just a moment of madness. It was not something that I intended to do, or something I do regularly.

“I’m just absolutely speechless.”

Blackman told the judge his attempts to find a new club might be hindered if he was forced to carry out community work.

He said the travelling to different clubs would be the biggest problem.

Explaining his situation, he said: “I have got my current agent looking around on my behalf and there have been a few clubs that might be interested.

“And because we are closer to the end of the season they are just waiting to see whether they are going down or staying up.”

“Once I do work for a club I would have to come back to the court and say that something has come up.”

Judge Mace told Blackman, who temporarily resides in a hotel in Blackpool using the £125 living allowance he receives from the club, that he would be more than capable of carrying out unpaid work before the new season begins.

Blackman has already played for eleven clubs in his short career.

Career

He played for Arsenal’s academy between 2001-06, and Tottenham Hotspur’s between 2006-07.

Blackman signed his first professional contract with Bristol City in 2009, making his debut in a League Cup match against Brentford in August 2009, before playing for AFC Wimbledon, Celtic, Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Plymouth Argyle, Dover, Maidenhead, and most recently Blackpool.

He was awarded ‘Tackle of the Year’ at Celtic when he accidentally collided with manager Neil Lennon during a match, sending him crashing into the turf

Judge Mace told Blackman his offending was at the ‘lower end’ of the spectrum, and that 40 hours of unpaid work could be completed before September.

She added that if the order really hinders him from finding a new club then he can apply to the court to be sentenced in another way.

Judge Mace said “Because you haven’t been signed by a club just yet, you should be able to complete the hours before the new season, and if you really really can’t do it you can make an application to the court to deal with sentence in another way.’

The judge ordering him to carry out 40 hours of unpaid work as part of a 12-month community order and to pay £85 in costs.

“As I have said, because the goods were of a high value, the fact you do have a similar conviction - albeit a long time ago - and the fact that you did try to run away from the shop before being apprehended by the police, this makes it serious enough to merit a community order.

“In the present circumstances I do think it’s appropriate for such an order to be made.

“It would be far more serious if you had not pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.”

Blackman, of Brixton, must complete his community service by April next year.

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