Cup hero admits drugs charges

A TALENTED footballer who helped lead his non-league team to the first round of the FA Cup is facing a jail sentence after admitting to possessing £15,000 worth of drugs.

Russell Claydon

A PROMISING footballer who starred in his team's fairytale FA Cup run is facing a prison term after admitting having £15,000 worth of drugs.

Leiston star Danny Cunningham was remanded in custody by magistrates in Ipswich yesterday after pleading guilty to possessing crack cocaine, diamorphine (heroin) and cannabis with intent to supply.

The 20-year-old, who scored the goal which took Leiston to a replay against Lewes in their fourth qualifying round tie, was arrested in Sussex on Tuesday, less than two hours before the replay kicked off.

His family were in court to hear the prosecutor in the case claim it was “inevitable” that Cunningham would be sent to prison.

The court heard how officers in Ipswich carried out a raid on Cunningham's house in Brooks Hall Road, where he lives with his mother, and discovered quantities of drugs worth a potential street value of £15,400.

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Sandra Dyer, prosecuting, said after being brought back to Ipswich by officers, Cunningham, a trained bricklayer, admitted he knew about some of the items found in his bedroom.

“He said he was holding them for someone else,” she said.

His pay-as-you-go mobile phone was confiscated by detectives due to potential information it might contain about him supplying cannabis to friends on “a social basis”.

She added that although he had no previous convictions, Cunningham, a former pupil of West Suffolk College in Bury St Edmunds, was reprimanded in 2003 for shoplifting.

Ian Duckworth, representing Cunningham, said his client's family were still coming to terms with the events, which had left them “totally devastated”.

He said: “These things were in his possession for a short period of time.

“He said to me he has learned his lesson and there is no suggestion he is 'Mr Big' or got any involvement in any greater circle of criminality.”

Magistrates told Cunningham they did not have the sufficient powers to sentence him and the case would be sent to Ipswich Crown Court for a date yet to be specified. They refused him bail on the grounds he may re-offend.

Cunningham played a starring role in Saturday's 1-1 draw with Lewes at Victory Road and spectators were surprised when he was left out of the team for Tuesday's replay, which Leiston won 3-1.

The thrilling success sent the Ridgeons League side through to the first round proper of the FA Cup for the first time in their history.

Last night Andy Crisp, Leiston chairman, expressed sadness at the case.

He said: “It is very sad news. He is a very talented person who was obviously in with the wrong people.”

Leiston's FA Cup run continues when they travel to Fleetwood Town for the first round tie on November 8.

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