Fresh conviction as former Hibs star fined for stealing

Garry O'Connor leaves the court. Picture: Lesley Donald
Garry O'Connor leaves the court. Picture: Lesley Donald

TEN years ago he moved for £3 million to the most-watched league in the world.

But now Garry O’Connor’s fall from grace is complete after he was fined £200 for stealing clothes from an upmarket department store.

Garry O'Connor celebrates a winning goal for Hibs. Picture: PA

Garry O'Connor celebrates a winning goal for Hibs. Picture: PA

It’s been a decade since former Hibs striker O’Connor left Russian side Lokomotiv Moscow for Birmingham City – and in that time the 33-year-old has suffered a humiliating and public downfall.

Once pocketing £20,000 a week, a court heard yesterday that he was unemployed and being supported by his wife, who is thought to work in a tanning salon.

He admitted stealing clothes from Harvey Nichols and was ordered to pay the St Andrew Square store £700 compensation for a stolen jacket that was never recovered.

The conviction marks the latest in a long list of offences for the ex-Hibernian player, who scored 46 goals during his time at Easter Road.

Despite early success on the pitch, O’Connor was drawn into a lavish party lifestyle that saw him squander his estimated £4m fortune on a combination of alcohol, drugs and a collection of fast 

Now the ex-footballer – who also had a stint at Lowland League side Selkirk as a player/manager – has swapped his £1.3m mansion for a £65-a-week council house in North Berwick.

Colm Dempsey, O’Connor’s defence solicitor, told Edinburgh Justice of the Peace Court yesterday that the theft on November 25 last year had been “unsophisticated” and that O’Connor “bitterly regretted the incident”.

O’Connor, he added, had no outstanding cases and although there were previous convictions, there were none for dishonesty.

Nonetheless it marks a fresh instalment in what has been a troubled journey since O’Connor was catapulted to fame in the early 2000s.

Reports of his antics quickly spread, with O’Connor previously admitting he snorted cocaine up to three times a week, spent £2m on 
Ferraris and Bentleys, thousands on designer tracksuits and all washed down with £100 bottles of champagne.

He was eventually cut loose from Birmingham City, failing a drugs test in 2009 and later spent £35,000 on a stay at a US rehab clinic in an attempt to hide his cocaine habit from the public.

At the height of his career it is thought O’Connor was earning up to £18,000 per week but the heavily-tattooed footballer – dubbed “Garry O’Cocky” by the tabloids – said it was the pressure of performing which led his life into freefall.

He said in a previous interview: “I feel bad that they [my kids] don’t have the inheritance that they should have.

“I always found myself in the company of people who had coke on offer all the time – it was too easy to take the drug on a night out.

“I knew I should never have put myself in that position but when you’ve got that much cash sloshing around you get carried away.

“My life was out of control but I kept it quiet.”

From hero to zero...

SINCE his rise to fame Garry O’Connor has had his fair share of court appearances.

After crashing his Ferrari Spyder in Tranent in April 2011, the shamed footballer appeared in court in 2012 accused of trying to swindle £93,500 in insurance money for the wrecked car.

O’Connor, who was 29 at the time of the trial, was subsequently cleared of the charge.

The previous week O’Connor had been convicted of possessing cocaine and obstructing police officers who spotted him snorting the powder.

He was found guilty of attempting to run away after officers saw him taking the drug in Edinburgh, and it emerged he had tried to tell police his surname was Johnstone when stopped.

A 200-hour community service order followed, with this in turn leading to a £500 fine after O’Connor failed to turn up for a number of shifts.

The striker appeared in court again in 2014 charged with driving his £35,000 Chrysler 300C in Port Seton after taking an unknown substance.

He was stopped by police officers on the B1348 at around 8pm on June 19, 2013. The charges were later dropped by the prosecution.

Later the same year O’Connor was fined £300 for pleading guilty to cocaine possession.

The conviction came after he was spotted on Leith Walk with a bag of white powder in his hand, which later turned out to be 0.03g of cocaine.

This week he was fined £200 for shoplifting from Harvey Nichols in November last year. He was also told to pay £700 in compensation.