A SEMI-PROFESSIONAL footballer’s American dream has been shattered after he was caught trying to smuggle illegal weapons into the UK.
Andrew Brown’s offer of a sports scholarship in Texas was withdrawn, after he was caught carrying two knuckle dusters and an extendible baton through Newcastle Airport.
The 23-year-old, of Keswick Avenue, Fulwell, had been on holiday in Bulgaria when he and pal Grant Moss, 21, were stopped on their way back last summer.
Brown, who has never been in trouble before, admitted importation charges and was given 12 months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, with 200 hours unpaid work at Newcastle Crown court yesterday.
Moss, of Shiphook Road, Bordon, Hampshire, who has a number of previous convictions, and was carrying a knuckle duster, an extendible baton and two Nato-style pepper spray canisters was jailed for 12 months.
Brown told police they had bought the weapons while they were drunk on holiday, had no intention of using them and had not realised it was illegal.
Paul Caulfield, defending Brown, told the court: “He had been offered a scholarship at a University in Texas.
“It was to start this year.
“He has been in touch with the authorities and it is unlikely he will be able to get a visa so he has had to abandon the scholarship.
“He is a semi-professional footballer player, playing in the Northern League.”
Judge Simon Hickey told the weapons were capable of causing “physical damage or even death” if they got into the wrong hands.
The judge said: “There is a risk to the public if they end up in the public sphere.”
Judge Hickey told Brown: “You would have been going to the States on a sports scholarship, you have already lost that opportunity.”