Ipswich/Newcastle: Chopra close to bankruptcy, ex-wife tells court during speeding case
17:12 26 November 2012
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IPSWICH Town striker Michael Chopra is on the brink of bankruptcy, his ex-wife has told a court.
Heather Swan asked for special dispensation to avoid a driving ban claiming neither she, nor her former husband, would be able to afford to send their son to school in a taxi.
Swan, an ex-model, appeared before Newcastle Magistrates Court to admit a speeding offence.
The 30-year-old’s guilty plea meant she was in danger of losing her licence after already totting up nine points for motoring offences.
During the hearing she said being banned would cause exceptional hardship. This was because Chopra did not have the money to pay for taxis for his four-year-old son, who goes to a private school around 10 miles away from Swan’s home in Medburn, near Newcastle.
When asked by prosecutor Paul Clark if Mr Chopra could pay the taxi fares to get to school should Swan lose her licence, she claimed her ex-husband was close to being bankrupt.
Swan was caught driving at 36mph in a 30mph zone in Barrack Road, Newcastle, on February 15.
At the time she was said to have been arguing with Mr Chopra in her Opel car.
Swan also told the court her home, which was bought for £850,000 in February 2008, was up for sale. However, it had been on the market for two years and she was unable to move closer to her son’s school until it was sold.
The magistrates accepted Swan’s exceptional hardship plea.
Swan had three penalty points added to her licence, which means she now has 12 points.
She was also ordered to pay a £90 fines, and ordered to pay £85 prosecution costs as well as a £15 government surcharge.
Chopra has also been convicted of driving offences.
In April this year he was disqualified from driving for six months and fined £400, after he admitted to running a red light in Ipswich in September last year.
It was Chopra’s third alleged driving offence in a two-month period.
Chopra’s well-publicised gambling addiction has seen him get into substantial debt.
In December last year Ipswich’s chief executive Simon Clegg revealed the 28-year-old’s debts were somewhere in the region of £250,000, with a significant percentage due to gambling. The club had advanced the striker £250,000 to help pay off loan sharks.
Mr Clegg also admitted the striker had been confronted by debt collectors at the club’s Playford Road training centre.
Ipswich also arranged for Chopra to stay at the Sporting Chance residential rehabilitation centre.
Chopra is also facing horse race-fixing allegations along with a number of other people.
A hearing on the matter is due to take place at the British Horseracing Authority’s offices in London on January 14.