Ex-Chelsea player jailed for drugs bust

A FORMER Chelsea footballer who ruined his career by peddling drugs in Ipswich has been jailed.

Helen Skene

A FORMER Chelsea footballer who ruined his career by peddling drugs in Ipswich has been jailed.

However, Joel Kitamirike's sentence was reduced significantly because of glowing references from the west London club.

The 24-year-old was sentenced to 20 months in prison after he was caught with crack cocaine, heroin and cannabis in Duke Street, Ipswich.

John Fenn, prosecuting at Ipswich Crown Court, said Kitamirike - who has played alongside the likes of John Terry and Frank Lampard - appeared to be trying to swallow something when police stopped him on September 29.

Mr Fenn said he spat out six wraps of cocaine, one wrap of heroin and some cannabis. Mobile telephones and £344 in cash were also confiscated from him.

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His address was searched and skunk cannabis, drug paraphernalia and more than £2,000 in cash was discovered.

He told police he had been in Ipswich for two weeks and admitted supplying drugs on September 27.

Kitamirike of Hoskins Close, London pleaded guilty to two charges of possessing Class A drugs with intent, two charges of supplying Class A drugs and one charge of possessing cannabis with intent to supply.

Mr Neofytou, mitigating, said his client was of previous good character and had been “on the brink of a very bright football career”.

In 2004 Kitamirike had been included in the Uganda national squad for a 2006 World Cup qualifier.

Mr Neofytou said: “He was too proud to accept it had gone wrong.”

He added: “He borrowed money he should have sought from more legitimate sources. He could not pay it back. The time came to pay back the money and he found himself working for another to pay that money back.”

Mr Neofytou stressed that the defendant was “a runner” rather than a drug dealer in the fullest sense.

He said: “He had the world at his feet and now finds he has nothing at his feet apart from prison.”

Judge David Goodin said: “This really is a tragic case of success and promise being brought low by his weakness and willingness to deal with his financial problems by resorting to dealing in Class A drugs.”

He said normally a prison sentence of three to four years would be appropriate but this had been significantly reduced because of his glowing references, his guilty pleas and it was his first offence.

Joel Kitamirike's career

* Ugandan born, made appearance for Chelsea aged 17 in a European match against Hapoel Tel Aviv (Israel) alongside Frank Lampard and John Terry.

*2004 included in the Uganda national squad for a 2006 World Cup qualifier, was then refused because Uganda did not permit dual nationalities to play and Kitamirike wished to retain his British citizenship.

*He was then released from Chelsea and played for Mansfield Town and then for Dundee in 2005 before going to America to play in Major League Soccer's Columbus Crew. He made an appearance for an Ohio-based team before returning to England.

*He played football for Fisher Athletic and Weymouth before joining Chelmsford City in February this year.

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