Royal wedding soldier and professional footballer shamed in Sunderland drug dealing case

Liam Walshaw, Danni Lay and Jack Anderson

Liam Walshaw, Danni Lay and Jack Anderson

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A GRENADIER guard and a former professional footballer were exposed as dealers when police found a drugs stash during a routine traffic stop.

Officers had pulled over ex soccer ace Danni Lay, who was driving a Nissan Qashqai, when he failed to stop for a red light in Sunderland in December 2013.

In his social circle of working people the use of cocaine and similar drugs is socially acceptable.

Barrister Alec Burns

Newcastle Crown Court heard, after initially seizing one bag of cocaine belonging to the 23-year-old, and later 14 bags of methylone from the footwell of the motor, investigations revealed he, along with his passengers Jack Anderson and army elite Liam Walshaw had all been selling drugs.

Lay, of Ravenswood Square, Sunderland, admitted dealing cocaine and was jailed for two years and four months.

The former football pro, who is still a keen sportsman, was working on a robotics course for car giant Nissan.

His barrister Alec Burns told the court: “He simply didn’t know how serious this offending was. He didn’t realise until he actually came to this court.

“In his social circle of working people the use of cocaine and similar drugs is socially acceptable.”

Walshaw, 21, who served with his platoon at the wedding of Prince William and Kate as well as the Queen’s birthday celebrations, kept his freedom when his four month sentence was suspended for 12 months with 250 hours unpaid work.

He had been caught carrying 62 packs of ketamine, worth over £800 when searched at the police station after the road stop.

A text message found on his phone, sent three hours before his arrest, had been sent to a number of friends and read: “Got 70 bags of ket to get rid of.”

He had admitted selling class c ketamine to friends after he started using the drug himself to cope with the horrors he had witnessed while serving in Afghanistan.

Walshaw’s barrister Paul Cross told the court: “It was not just a good career in the army, it was a distinguished career.

“He was a grenadier guard, involved in public events such as the royal wedding and the Queen’s birthday party.

“You might think they just turn up and stand still but they are standing still for three hours while fainting is a disciplinary offence.

“The greatest punishment for him is losing this career, it was expected to be a long and successful career.

“He was supplying to friends and members of his own circle, people already users of ketamine.

“When someone has served his country in the way he has there is perhaps credit they can draw on.”

Judge Penny Moreland told Walshaw, of Neale Street, Sunderland: “You had a promising career in the army, you lost it as a result of your involvement with drugs.

“Nothing I say, I suspect, can increase the regret you feel for the loss of a career you could have been proud of.”

The court heard he has found new work after his discharge from the army.

Passenger Jack Anderson admitted 14 bags of class b methylone, worth £300, that were found in the car were his and pleaded guilty to supplying the class b drug after a further £1,444 worth was found at his home.

His barrister Jamie Adams said the 25-year-old, of Reading Road, Red House, Sunderland, also comes from a respectable, hard working background and that his appearance in court is “tragic”.

Anderson was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months with 250 hours unpaid work.

The court heard the trio, who have no previous convictions, were linked to dealing through their mobile phones, which were interrogated after the traffic stop.

Prosecutor Emma Dowling told the court: “They primarily related to the supply of drugs to friends and friends of friends, described as a social circle.

“There is no suggestion they were dealing at a higher level than that.”

All three men were carrying large amounts of cash when they were arrested.