Stewart Downing's former agent admits tax charge

Stewart Downing
Image caption Stewart Downing now plays for Liverpool and is in the England squad

A Tyneside football agent has admitted mishandling the financial affairs of Liverpool and England footballer Stewart Downing.

Ian Elliott, 54, from Newcastle, admitted failing to provide proper information for tax returns when he was secretary of the midfielder's company.

He was given a six months suspended prison term at Doncaster Crown Court.

Former Middlesbrough and Aston Villa star Downing said he had been "let down badly" by Elliott.

Elliott, who represented the 27-year-old when multi million-pound contracts changed hands, was accused of displaying "woeful ineptitude".

Kitchen fitter

He admitted failing to provide proper information for tax returns for work he had done for Middlesbrough-born Downing, the court heard.

The charges, which relate to 2007 and 2008 when Mr Downing was playing for Middlesbrough, came to light after Elliott's companies were investigated by HM Revenue and Customs.

Image caption Four charges against Elliott were dropped

Elliott was acting as secretary of Stewart Downing Promotions Ltd - a firm set up to manage his celebrity endorsements and other matters.

He also ran his own firms - a promotions company and a kitchen supplier - which Downing used.

Elliott was handling "large sums of money" but his records were described by an accountant as "one of the worst accounts I have seen in my working life", the court was told.

Simon Pentol, defending, said Elliott was now working as a commission-based salesman and kitchen fitter and living in rented accommodation.

Handing Elliott a six-month jail sentence suspended for two years, Judge Martin Bethel QC said: "Stewart Downing is and has been for a number of years a very successful, high-earning footballer.

"You befriended him and his family when he was very young and you took them into your confidence. They trusted you."

Speaking outside court, Downing, said: "I'm obviously very sad. I put a lot of trust into him. I think me and my family were let down very badly.

"It's obviously been a hard time for me, trying to play football with this on my mind. But you learn from your mistakes. I have to move on now and look back on this in a few years knowing I've moved on."

Elliott was initially charged with fraud against Downing and the case was heard in York and Hull.

He admitted a new charge of failing to keep accounting records when the case came to Doncaster, and the Crown decided not to proceed with any of the other charges.

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