A semi-professional footballer was caught storing cocaine in his granny’s house.

Former Oxford City and North Leigh player Henry Landers – now a striker for Banbury United – admitted holding the 2.6g of cocaine for a dealer but, in a basis of plea, refused to name them ‘for fear of consequences’.

The 21-year-old was spared an immediate spell behind bars at Oxford Crown Court yesterday, with Recorder Emily Formby QC noting that it was the first time he’d been in trouble and was he helping to look after his grandmother.

Earlier, the court heard that Landers had not yet told his boss at Banbury United that he was in court – although North Leigh director of football Craig Dore provided a reference praising the striker’s politeness and professionalism.

There would be difficulties for her client’s footballing career if he was made to wear a curfew tag around his ankle. The tag could interfere with wearing shinpads and might get damaged on the football field, the judge was told.

Kellie Enever, mitigating, said Landers had no previous convictions and there were question marks over whether he would still be able to play for Banbury given he’d admitted holding the drugs.

“He is only too aware of – to put it bluntly – the stupidity of a decision he made last year,” she said.

References read to the court described the offending as out of character.

Police searched Landers’ grandmother’s house in May last year. The footballer had been living with his grandmother.

In his bedroom, they found six wraps of cocaine with a total weight of 2.6g, along with scales and a drugs line phone.

Also found was more than £700 in cash – seized from his car – and designer clothing. Landers said the cash and clothes were connected to his then sideline business selling designer clothing on website Depop.

In a basis of plea, the defendant said he’d been paid £50 to hold the drugs for another person. “I am not prepared to say who that person is for fear of the consequences,” he added.

Landers, of Collinwood Road, Oxford, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to possession with intent to supply cocaine.

Recorder Formby sentenced him to 14 months’ imprisonment suspended for two years, saying she was prepared to take an ‘exceptional course’. Landers must complete up to 41 rehabilitation sessions and pay £1,000 in costs.

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