Footballer spared jail after stabbing threat at nightclub celebration

NEWS from Nottingham Crown Court.
NEWS from Nottingham Crown Court.

A night out to celebrate his team surviving relegation almost ended up with a footballer from Kirkby going down himself -- to jail.

Nottingham Crown Court heard how “talented player” David Smith-Barlow, 25, of Abbey Road, had to be thrown out of a nightclub in Nottingham where he told bouncers: “I stab people”.

And his arrest came just four days after he had been handed a suspended prison-sentence of two years for possession of heroin with intent to supply.

The judge, Recorder Nigel Daly, told Smith-Barlow, who plays for Keyworth United in the Notts Senior League: “My immediate reaction was to impose the suspended sentence straight away because you also have previous convictions for similar matters.”

Instead, the judge spared him jail “by the skin of his teeth” after reading references and a probation report, and also hearing that Smith-Barlow had now “calmed down a lot” and was “working hard” to improve his life.

The court heard that the probation report said he “regularly drank to excess, which caused him to become violent”. But he had now taken steps to address this problem by going on an alcohol awareness programme.

Smith-Barlow had also completed a training course at Basford Hall College, had recently become the father of a young child, had “good accommodation” and was receiving the support of his family.

“All the stabilising factors are now there,” said his barrister, Digby Johnson, mitigating. “He is also making gainful use of his leisure hours by being involved with Keyworth United.”

It was while celebrating with his Keyworth teammates over the Easter weekend at Nirvana nightclub on Victoria Street, Nottingham that he got into trouble, the court heard.

“But he became separated and isolated from them, and had had far too much to drink,” said Mr Johnson.

Lisa Hardy, prosecuting, told the court: “He was seen being aggressive towards others and was asked to leave. When he refused, staff tried to forcibly eject him, but as he struggled, he was abusive and made various threats, making the comment about stabbing people.

“Doormen were frightened enough to take him to the floor and although he didn’t have a knife, someone they believed he was with did have one.”

Miss Hardy explained that the earlier heroin offence arose from a police operation to catch a man who was driving a car in which Smith-Barlow was a back-seat passenger.

As he was detained by officers, he tried to swallow a small packet of heroin, but vomited. When he was searched, heroin worth £1,100 was found.

With regard to the nightclub incident, Smith-Barlow pleaded guilty to using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intent to provoke violence on Easter Monday, March 28 and breaching the suspension order. He was sentenced to a further four months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, and ordered to carry out 40 hours of unpaid work in the community.

The judge told him: “This is your last chance. Throw it away and, next time, you will be going inside.”