Ex-West Ham player spared jail in burglary trial after claiming he was 'on treasure hunt'

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Former West Ham United midfielder Shaun Newton has avoided jail time for burgling a flat after telling the court he believed he was taking part in a treasure hunt.

According to the London Evening Standard, the 41-year-old said he had not slept for two days, was drunk and had cocaine in his system when he was caught trying to take keys from a property in Mitcham, South London.

Newton, who is best remembered for spells with Charlton Athletic and West Ham, told Kingston crown court the incident was part of his 40th birthday celebrations.

I was in some treasure hunt or I thought it was. I was looking for the rest of the clues to solve the puzzle.

It was a long weekend and I was tired and disorientated and confused by the tricks that were played on me at the time.

I was led to believe there was a car, a Range Rover or whatever, and I was hunting for it. I pulled apart my whole house looking for keys.

There were things in my house leading me to number plates, stuff like that and I was led to believe I had to do certain things like breaking glass.

The occupant of the flat, Samuel Mintah, had told the court that Newton came in on May 15 last year, and started searching the room, saying he was looking for car keys.

Mr Mintah had to restrain Newton, and he subsequently had to be searched for by police in March after missing his pre-trial hearing and breaking the terms of his bail.

The former England U-21 international denied burglary but he was found guilty by the jury and sentenced to 100 hours community service by recorder Ian Peddie QC, who said:

It's clear you were high on cocaine and alcohol and maybe that's why you committed the burglary.

Fortunately nothing was taken and in the witness box you gave a bizarre account of your actions, enough to cause the jury and myself to be concerned about your mental health.

It's not the first time Newton was found guilty in a court. In 2008, he was convicted on nine counts of perverting the course of justice after accepting money from then West Ham teammate Teddy Sheringham and Bobby Zamora in exchange for "losing" speeding tickets issued to them.

Meanwhile in 2006, Newton, who also played for Wolverhampton Wanderers and Leicester City, was suspended from the game for seven months after testing positive for cocaine.

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