Manchester City's Stephen Ireland 'was victim of £20000 blackmail plot'

13 March 2009 03:47
The 22-year old footballer was targeted after his iPod was found in the dressing room of a clothing store.

It was claimed a man contacted father of two Ireland's club and asked for £20,000 for the return of the property.

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But police were called in by officials at the City of Manchester stadium and a suspect was arrested.

Paul Smith, 29, of Parsonage Street, Stockport, appeared before magistrates in Manchester charged with blackmail.

The charge claims that between the 26th January and the 30th January 2009 in Manchester Smith, with a view to gain for himself, made an unwarranted demand of £20,000 from Stephen Ireland with menaces.

It is believed the incident occurred after Ireland had been out shopping in Manchester city centre.

Prosecuting Mr Richard Blackburn said: "The complainant is a Stephen Ireland. The club contacted the police and reported the matter and the defendant was arrested."

Smith was sent for trial at Manchester Crown Court where he intends to plead not guilty. he was granted bail on condition he continues to live at his home address. Reporting restrictions were not lifted.

His defence lawyer Mr Sean Draycott said: "He is obviously concerned about the proceedings and it is something that he firmly denies."

District Judge Diane Baker adjourned the case until June 19 for a plea and case management hearing.


Source: Telegraph