Former Sunderland and Newcastle United player jailed after threatening family with replica gun

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A footballer threatened a rival’s terrified family with a replica gun after sending a series of sinister threats by phone.

Allan Taylor, a former academy player at both Newcastle United and Sunderland, sent 28 text messages, made 20 phone calls and issued warnings by Whatsapp to former school friend Paul Stephenson after a fall out in February.

It is a tragedy in your case that, despite having a significant and God-given talent, one which many in the north-east of England would give their right arm for, you don’t use that.

Mr Recorder James Brown

Newcastle Crown Court heard the threats, all made on February 17, included the chilling warning “buy your coffin” and included a picture of himself carrying a handgun and a machete.

Mr Stephenson, who was not at his house at the time, was so concerned he ordered his girlfriend and young child to leave their Washington home and get to safety.

As his partner prepared the getaway, Taylor, who hopes to return to a semi-professional playing career in the northern league, was spotted sitting in a silver car outside the family home, with a black gun, which turned out to be fake, pointed out of the window.

Prosecutor Paul Rowland told the court: “He said ‘I’m going to kill you all’.

“Not surprisingly, she was terrified.”

Taylor, of Whitehills, Leam Lane, Gateshead, admitted possessing an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence.

Mr Recorder James Brown sentenced the 25-year-old to two years behind bars.

The judge told him: “You took, in the court’s view, what can only be described as an extremely serious and extreme course of action.

“What you did was an appalling piece of behaviour.

“You made the most serious threats to him and his family and you backed those up by sending a picture of a firearm to him.

“He couldn’t possibly have known from the picture that it wasn’t a working firearm.

“If you had left it at that it would have been bad enough but rather than leave it you decided to go around and reinforce the threat by being in possession of the gun.

“He and his family must have been terrified.”

Taylor must stay away from Mr Stephenson and his family under the terms of a five year restraining order.

The judge added: “It is a tragedy in your case that, despite having a significant and God-given talent, one which many in the north-east of England would give their right arm for, you don’t use that.

“I am sure it is something you regret significantly.”

Graeme Cook, defending, said the gun was an air pistol which had no gas canister in the chamber and could have caused no damage.

Mr Cook said; “He was and still is a very good footballer.

“In the 2000s he was on the Sunderland and Newcastle academy.

“He will return to semi-professional football in the northern league.”

Mr Cook said what happened was a “knee-jerk reaction” and Taylor has learnt his lesson.

Gareth Smith, 26, of Beacon Street, Low Fell, who drove the car that took Taylor to the scene, admitted affray and was sentenced to nine months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, with rehabilitation requirements and 120 hours unpaid work.