A Derbyshire football club says it will ‘support’ one of its players after he was given a suspended prison sentence for defrauding a major high street chain out of more than £22,000.
Adam Smith, who currently plays for Alfreton Town and once starred for Chesterfield FC and Mansfield Town, received a two-year jail term, suspended for two years at Derby Crown Court on Tuesday.
He admitted fraudulently claiming £22,278.27 from TK Maxx stores nationwide -including Chesterfield - between November 18 and December 22, 2015, the court heard.
In sentencing Smith, Judge Robert Egbuna told the 31-year-old that he had ‘used a sophisticated plan of deception’ in targeting the firm.
Now Alfreton Town has published a statement on its website saying it will stand by Smith ‘through this period’ following his sentencing.
The statement reads: “Firstly, the club had no knowledge of Adam’s past activities thus the current contextual situation does not affect ATFC.
“Adam has been fully co-operational in ATFC’s brief investigation which saw the club meet with the player about the issue.
“Adam explained the details fully and showed great remorse over his actions which happened 13-14 months ago.
“Adam made clear that the events were far behind him and he has been grateful for a second chance at redeeming his career.
“ATFC would also like to stress that the events which Adam was involved with took place when the player was not an Alfreton Town footballer, thus the club cannot comment on events which did not immediately or subsequently affect the club’s position and reputation. Therefore, it was agreed that ATFC support the player.
“ATFC would also like to emphasise that the club does not support fraud or any kind of fraudulent activity, the Club will continue to support Adam through this period.
“ATFC will be making no further statements on this issue.”
The court was told Smith, of Church Street North, Chesterfield, would spend hundreds of pounds on items on a credit card and then tell the cashier he had paid on the wrong card.
He would then be refunded and pay again with a second card, but retain the original receipt which he used to claim the cash back.
Sarah Slater, prosecuting, said sometimes that original receipt would be used “two or three times” to illegally claim back money.
Smith, who began his footballing career at Chesterfield and played for the Spireites for seven years, used four credit cards to carry out the transactions and also coerced two other people to fraudulently take goods back for refunds for him.
The footballer was snared when he was confronted at a store in Banbury, Oxfordshire, by a suspicious security guard who was watching him on CCTV.
He alerted the police who arrested Smith when they pulled him over on the M42 near Birmingham and discovered a folder containing receipts and clothing tags from a number of TK Maxx stores.
Smith’s solicitor Bob Sastry, said his client committed the offences at a time when his relationship with the mother of his two children, aged 10 and seven, broke down.
Mr Sastry said: “He was under considerable financial strain after no longer being given a full-time contract as a footballer.
“He had difficulty moving down the (footballing) ranks and that led to the break-up of his relationship with the mother of his two children.
“He now earns £350 per week and has a contract (with Alfreton) until the end of May. “That is the background to what led him to make the stupid decision to carry out this offending.”