Former agent of footballer Stewart Downing denies fraud

Stewart Downing
Image caption Stewart Downing said he never read his contracts while Ian Elliot was in charge

An England footballer has told a court that hundreds of thousands of pounds went missing from his bank account, allegedly siphoned off by his ex-agent.

Stewart Downing said he had trusted Ian Elliott to look after his finances after he signed his first contract with Middlesbrough when he was 20.

The 26-year-old, who is now with Aston Villa, said he checked the business account after the relationship soured.

Mr Elliott, of Foxhills Covert, Newcastle, denies four counts of fraud.

The 53-year-old is accused of taking the money to prop up his failing business projects.

York Crown Court was told that the relationship turned sour during the January 2007 transfer window, when the agent revealed on local radio that Tottenham Hotspur were interested in signing Mr Downing.

Mr Downing had not wanted that publicised as he had no desire to leave the North East club.

As a result he no longer trusted Mr Elliot and decided to check a bank account, trading as Stewart Downing Promotions Ltd.

The account, which should have had £600,000 to £700,000 in it, contained just £11,000.

Mr Downing told the court he never read his contracts while Elliott was in charge of his affairs.

He said: "I relied on him to do most things on the business side."

The trial, which is expected to last three weeks, continues.

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