One-time top-flight footballer jailed over bank con

A former Premier League footballer, who was jailed for blackmailing a team-mate, has been sent back to prison after he admitted gaining more than £70,000 from an international bank fraud.

Ashley Timms, whose parents are high-ranking police officers, played a pivotal role in an email scam which enabled criminals in Africa to steal money from bank customers in the UK.

The 26-year-old goalkeeper was once a bright prospect at Manchester City but fell into organised crime after being jailed for blackmailing a team-mate over a sex video. He took part in the fraud while playing for semi-professional team Wakefield FC, and the conspiracy went on to involve two more of the Yorkshire club’s players.

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Simon Kealey, prosecuting, told Leeds Crown Court Timms was in contact with criminals in Nigeria who sent emails to bank customers and tricked them into revealing their account details.

The information was used to remove money from the accounts of 17 different customers between October 2010 and April 2011.

Mr Kealey said the funds were then funnelled through the accounts of other conspirators before being cashed, loaded on to pre-pay credit cards, used to buy goods or laundered through gaming machines in betting shops.

It later emerged several bank transfers were made to Nigeria by both Timms and his flatmate, fellow Wakefield footballer Matthew Torbitt, 20.

Connor Glavin, 19, a third Wakefield footballer whose father Ronnie once managed the team and played for Barnsley and Glasgow Celtic, allowed his name to be used in setting up credit cards.

Judge Scott Wolstenholme jailed Timms for two years, telling him: “You were born with a talent and became a professional and very successful footballer in the Premiership. Then you threw it all away when, in 2008, you were convicted of blackmailing a team-mate and sentenced to 20 months’ imprisonment.

“On emerging from that prison sentence it appears that you were approached by some Nigerian criminals. You readily plunged into a bank fraud.”

Michael Collins, for Timms, said his client had a gambling problem and recognised “the shame he has brought upon not only himself but also his family”.

The court heard that Torbitt now worked for Tesco, had been nominated to serve as a union representative, and had tried out for other football clubs.

Glavin had been “naive and foolish” to become involved, said his barrister Richard Clews.

“It may be that he was temporarily blinded by the bright lights of being in the company of a former professional footballer who had been at a Premiership club.”

Timms, of Woodlands Village, Wakefield, pleaded guilty at a previous hearing to conspiring to defraud and launder money.

Torbitt, of Newton Drive, Altrincham, was given a 12-month suspended sentence and ordered to do 180 hours’ unpaid work after admitting conspiring to defraud.

Glavin, of Applehaigh Close, Royston, Barnsley, admitted conspiring to launder money and was given a 12-month community order requiring him to carry out 120 hours of unpaid work.