Mar 09, 2024


AN EX-FOOTBALLER who became a cocaine courier when his career flopped has been jailed.

Former Wolves goalkeeper Andy De Bont, 49, was caught with a £103,000 haul of cocaine while on a delivery run in October 2020.

The ex-pro, who also played in the Football League for Hartlepool and Hereford, turned to a career in drugs when he ran up debts after developing a cocaine addiction following his retirement.

The 6ft 2ins De Bont began his career with Wolves and signed professional terms with the club before making his senior debut during a loan spell with Hartlepool.

He went on to make 33 appearances with Hereford, but his spell at the club included relegation from the Football League in 1997.

But De Bont was caught with 825 grams of cocaine in his Vauxhall van in Newtown, Powys, in October 2020.

Appearing at Mold Crown Court, he pleaded guilty to possession with intent to supply Class A drugs.

David Maidstone, prosecuting, told the court police officers found three clingfilmed blocks of cocaine with a street value of £103,000.

The officers then searched De Bont's home in Sedgley, near Dudley, West Midlands, where they discovered electronic scales and bank cards with traces of cocaine.

Police also found substances used to dilute drugs, showing his home was being used to prepare Class A drugs for sale.

Callum Ross, representing the former footballer, said in mitigation that De Bont's regret and remorse was genuine.

He said: "He performed a limited function under directions as a courier.

"A man who was to some degree vulnerable and who was engaged by some level of pressure, coercion and intimidation.

"He was by no means the mastermind of this operation; in my submission it was quite the opposite. He should not have involved himself and he had other options available at the time.

"He was simply meeting his own habit in paying back his debt as a drug user and addict of cocaine.

"He was not influencing higher up the chain, he was following instructions.

"This is a man who needs help. He knows the likely result is prison. He has shown he will continue to remain out of trouble."

The court also heard he was "by no means the mastermind of the operation", but became a courier to pay back his "significant" drug debt.

De Bont began his career as a trainee, but never broke into the first team.

He made his senior debut in 1995 during a loan spell at Hartlepool United, before joining Hereford on a temporary basis in February 1996 to reunite with his former Wolves manager Graham Turner Third Division Hereford.

He signed for Hereford on a permanent deal the following season, but and was a regular starter in 1996–97 season when the team was relegated from the Football League.

De Bont eventually retired after spells at non-league Stourbridge, Moor Green and Willenhall Town.

Passing sentence, His Honour Judge Timothy Petts told De Bont he had to hand down an immediate jail sentence because suspending it would be an "exceptional course of action".

The judge added: "The prosecution does not accept that you were under threat. But I accept you were vulnerable acting in this way."

De Bont was jailed for two years and 11 months.