A professional footballer signed from Dunstable Town has been given a suspended prison sentence – for stealing a mobile phone.
The career of talented centre back Luke Pennell may now be nipped in the bud as his team bosses discuss whether or not he should be sacked.
The 20-year-old plays for League Two side Dagenham and Redbridge, known as The Daggers.
He made his professional debut with them in March - 10 months AFTER he committed the offence of theft.
Aylesbury Crown Court heard last week how Pennell, who lives in Milton Keynes, left Casino MK with the victim and another man at 3am.
They drove the victim to Crownhill, where they met Pennell’s accomplice, Tobi Shoyoye.
Shoyoye, who is 19, produced a knife and the victim ran away, dropping his mobile phone in the process.
Pennell and Shoyoye stole the phone and £2,000 cash, the court heard.
Pennell pleaded guilty to theft and was given a nine month prison sentence, suspended for two years.
A former MK Dons youth player, at the time of the offence he was playing for Dunstable Town.
Dunstable Town chairman John McLoughlin was shocked to hear the news.
“I had no idea about this offence. If I did, I would never have let him continue playing with us,” he said. “He’s been very silly. He was a real star on the football field. We spotted him and we nutured his talent. He had a very bright future ahead of him.”
Pennell has been unable to play for The Daggers for much of the season because he injured his knee during training. He is expected to be off for up to a year.
A spokesman for Dagenham and Redbridge said the team’s chairman and bosses were in talks this week with Pennell himself “to consider his future with the club”.