Former Manchester City player, 25, jailed for four-and-a-half years after police discover £50,000 of hard drugs hidden in his armchair

Wednesday, January 17, 2024
 – A former Manchester City football player has been jailed for four-and-a-half years after hard drugs worth £50,000 were found hidden in his armchair.

Max Norman, 25, was caught with quantities of heroin, crack, and cocaine three times within the space of two months in 2021.

On one occasion, police discovered his illegal stash of various hard drugs and cash after they fell out of his underwear during a search.

On Monday afternoon, Liverpool Crown Court heard that the first incident came on September 7, 2021, when he was the passenger in a Vauxhall Vectra which was pulled over on Crosby Road South, Seaforth, Liverpool.

Norman, of Keble Drive in Aintree, Liverpool, initially refused to open his door for officers and was taken into custody following a struggle.

Rebecca Smith, prosecuting, described how several items 'fell from his underwear' during a search - namely 72 wraps of white powder, seven wraps of a brown substance and £246.55 in cash.

Two mobile phones were also recovered, one from his person and another from inside the car.

Despite this, Norman claimed that he was 'just a user'. He also asked of PCs: 'Are you happy now that you've got me?'

When examined, the wraps were found to be 7.58g of crack cocaine and 1.1g of heroin worth a total of £770.

Messages found on the devices also indicated that they had been used for dealing.

Norman was subsequently released under investigation but was then detained again on October 14, 2021.

On this occasion, plainclothes police stopped a white Mini, which Norman was in the front seat of, driven by co-defendant Matthew Larty, of no fixed address.

Officers then discovered more drugs in the passenger seat footwell. Around £180 in cash was also seized, while the phones of both men 'showed that there was drug supply between both parties'.

Finally, on October 27, 2021, Merseyside Police searched an address on Rumford Street in Liverpool city centre - which Norman was found to have a set of keys during his arrest two weeks prior.

Inside, officers found heroin, cocaine, and crack cocaine worth 'in excess' of £50,000 within an armchair.

CCTV footage obtained from the outside property, which was described as a 'stash house', was said to have shown him visiting on a 'number of occasions', dropping off carrier bags and their contents and being seen 'placing something into his breast pocket as he was leaving'.

Norman, who suffers from ADHD and Tourette's syndrome, has a total of five previous convictions for nine offences.

Stuart McNally, appearing on his behalf, said that his client had been a 'very talented footballer who played at a high level both in the United Kingdom and Europe'.

His LinkedIn profile lists him as having been a youth player at Manchester City and Wigan Athletic before signing professionally with clubs including Tranmere, Morecambe and Turkish outfit Alanyaspor.

But Mr McNally added that Norman had sustained a brain injury after being 'involved in a serious road traffic collision', saying: 'He is a highly intelligent young man, capable of achieving.

'He does appreciate that these are serious offences. The defendant knows the consequences.

'He has a supportive family. He has employment available.

'When he is released, there is some stability. The prison experience, for him, has been stark. It has been chastening.'

Callum Ross, defending, told the court that the 26-year-old had served in the armed forces but was discharged due to injury, and fell into drug use and then dealing as a result of debts.

He added: 'Clearly, he has never been in trouble before. He was not the leader of this enterprise, he played a role within it.

'He has been out of trouble now for some two-and-a-half years or so. He was a hard-working, diligent soldier who served his country as best as he could.

'He has, of his own volition, ceased his drug use. He is clearly a man who has been doing all he can in the last few years to move his life forward.'

Norman admitted possession of heroin, crack cocaine, and cocaine with intent to supply and being concerned with the supply of cannabis. Appearing via video link to HMP Liverpool, he was locked up for four-and-a-half years.

Larty pleaded guilty to possession of class A drugs with intent to supply. He was handed a 24-month imprisonment suspended for two years plus a rehabilitation activity requirement of up to 15 days and 300 hours of unpaid work.

Sentencing, Judge David Swinnerton said: 'You are both relatively young, and we are now talking about events over two years ago. There is much to be said about both of you.'

The judge described Norman as the 'controller of the stash house', and told him: 'You were extremely foolish that, following your first arrest, you carried on and, following your second arrest, you carried on. That makes your situation so much worse.'

Judge Swinnerton meanwhile said to Larty: 'Both of you have had your lives turned upside down by injury, accidents or ill health. In your case, that led to your departure from a well-regarded armed forces career.

'You have gone from a position where people hold you in high esteem to being a convicted drug dealer.

'You have a life which you need to rebuild. I am giving you a chance here. If you throw that chance away, I will send you to prison.'

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