Footballer who ran cocaine gang gets 11 years

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A SEMI-professional non-league footballer who controlled a cocaine-dealing gang has been jailed for 11 years.

Former Glossop North End player Rob Hartshorne, 28, of Hyde, Greater Manchester, plied his trade in the North West Counties Premier League but was said to enjoy an elite lifestyle through his criminal activities.

Police stopped a car in Stockport in November 2010 and recovered a large bag of cocaine worth more than £95,000. An investigation followed and the trail eventually led to Hartshorne, Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court was told.

When his home was searched, officers discovered wardrobes brimming with expensive designer clothing, more than £30,000 worth of designer jewellery and photographs of his many luxury holidays.

Further investigations also showed he owned six houses worth more than £630,000, which he rented out in a bid to legitimise his illicit income. Hartshorne also rented himself a luxury apartment in the Dunham area of Altrincham, which police suspected was to be used as a safe house.

Hartshorne and seven of his accomplices all pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to conspiracy to supply cocaine, said Greater Manchester Police.

The defendants were jailed for nearly 40 years in total after more than £900,000 worth of drugs and £110,000 in cash was seized.

• Two people were wounded in a shootout after armed robbers invaded the Athens home of former Sheffield United player Giorgos Donis and briefly held his father-in-law hostage, police said.

A police officer was shot in the leg and one of the robbers was also wounded.

The former Blades player and Greek international, 42, who also played for Blackburn Rovers, is now coach of PAOK Thessaloniki. He was not at home when the gunmen broke in and held his wife’s parents and two children at gunpoint.

Two gunmen were arrested following a police operation involving a helicopter and dozens of officers on foot and on motorcycles.