A disgraced professional footballer has been jailed for possessing Class A drugs and counterfeit money while at Glastonbury Festival.
Paddy Lacey was arrested on the second day of the festival in June having been sacked by League Two side Accrington Stanley a month earlier after testing positive for cocaine.
Lacey, who previously played for Sheffield Wednesday, Bradford City, Altrincham and Barrow, was found with 20.3 grams of cocaine, 16.8 grams of MDMA, and £520 in counterfeit £20 notes.
The 24-year-old pleaded guilty to two counts of possessing a controlled substance, and passing as genuine an item which he knew to be a counterfeit.
Lacey of Crosby, Merseyside, was sentenced to 16 months in prison at Bristol Crown Court, on July 21, having earlier pleaded guilty at Bath Magistrates.
In May this year, the 24-year-old was banned from playing football for 14 months by the Football Association after he admitted breaching anti-doping regulations by testing positive for cocaine following Stanley’s match against Hartlepool United, in November 2016.
The disciplinary proceedings were not related to the jail sentence, which marks a dramatic fall from grace for Liverpool-born Lacey, who joined Stanley in August 2016 as a promising midfield prospect.
Accrington Stanley chairman Andy Holt said he was ‘shocked’ at the news of Lacey’s conviction.
Mr Holt told the Accrington Observer : “It’s a real shame, he was a really promising player for us and I was really disappointed when he tested positive after Hartlepool.
“We gave him his chance in the Football League, he was a tough central midfielder and we really liked him.
“He’s made a big mistake and he’s paying the price. I wish it wasn’t true.
He had the chance to do really well and it’s sad that he’s thrown that away at such a young age. I do hope it’s the last mistake he makes.”
Lacey once won the Sky Bet EFL League Two Goal of the Month competition after netting memorably from 25 yards for Accrington against Portsmouth early in his League Two career.
He began his football career at Sheffield Wednesday’s Academy before a switch to Bradford City in 2011.
He later moved to part-timers Altrincham, also working as a carpet fitter, before a spell at Barrow, who he helped gain promotion to the Conference National in 2015.
Lacey spent two seasons at Holker Street before signing a one-year contract with Stanley.
The midfielder was also forging a successful amateur boxing career, winning the 75kg class B category of the prestigious Haringey Box Cup this June.
He had been suspended from football since the previous December after a metabolite of cocaine was found in a urine sample on November 22, 2016.
At the FA’s Independent Regulatory Commission Hearing in May – a month before his arrest – Lacey’s representatives had argued that his use of the prohibited substance during a nine-hour drinking session with friends was not ‘intentional’ and there was no ‘significant fault’ on the behalf of the player.
The Commission agreed to a 14-month ban, down from a maximum available sanction of four years.
Lacey had given evidence that over the previous four years he had been suffering from depression, without receiving professional help, and used alcohol and cocaine to ‘cope’.
The hearing report says he told the FA’s head of integrity that since the positive test result he had been “undertaking therapy to address his problems and was making progress.”
In issuing the lessened sanction, the Commission accepted that it was ‘cognitive impairment’ that had caused Lacey to breach the anti-doping rules and were satisfied that it was a case of ‘no significant fault or negligence’.
They also agreed not to order him to pay a fine or costs.