Former Tottenham Hotspur striker Chris Armstrong has admitted smashing up his local Tesco because he couldn’t buy cigarettes.
The 50-year-old, who made his name at Crystal Palace, also punched and kicked a Tesco worker who tried to confront him.
Armstrong admitted assault by beating and criminal damage at Westminster Magistrates’ Court today.
According to the charges, he damaged security barriers costing £2,000 during the incident at the store in Fawcett Road in Chelsea, south west London, in July last year.
(Image: Steve Reigate)
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He was initially charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm but the Crown Prosecution Service changed it this morning to a lesser charge of assault by beating.
Prosecutor Nathan Fuller said: “This took place on July 18 last year. It was a Tesco petrol station on Fulham Road. It was 2.15am.“Officers were called to the Tesco after reports of an aggressive and violent man who was smashing up the store.
In short he had accessed the store by forcing his way through the doors attempting to buy cigarettes.“It had temporarily closed as staff were taking a break.
When told that he couldn’t buy cigarettes he became extremely aggressive and kicked over the security scanners on the way into the shop, the standard baskets and damaged property within the store itself.“
It was then a store worker, Mr Alex Boetang, tried to confront him to tell him to stop and the defendant turned and punched the worker in the face with a closed fist causing him to fall to the floor.
He then kicked him in the shin whilst on the floor. The defendant ran from the scene and was detained by officers a short while later.
“The main injury appears to be on his leg – there’s a graze where he was kicked on his shin.”Mckenzie Webster, defending, told the court Armstrong has been a customer at the shop for 14 years.
She told magistrates: “The store was not closed and locked. There was a problem with the door and they couldn’t close them up.
There was a sign on the front. “You can see Mr Armstrong going in and trying to get someone’s attention. He didn’t break into the store.
He wasn’t aware it was closed. “He went in and was told he couldn’t buy cigarettes because an employee was on a break – it was then he got aggravated he couldn’t buy cigarettes.”
She told the court Armstrong wanted to be sentenced today if he could be fined – but magistrates said the incident was too serious for a fine and could call for a community order
.Imposing a community order could mean Armstrong has to carry out unpaid work or rehabilitation activities with the probation service.
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In March 1995, Armstrong became the first-ever Premier League player to fail a drug test after testing positive for cannabis.
He returned to the game within a month after attending a brief rehab programme, finishing the season on 18 goals for Crystal Palace.
Armstrong started his career in the Welsh National League, playing for Llay Welfare before signing with Wrexham in 1989.
He played for Millwall before joining Crystal Palace and was then signed by Tottenham Hotspur in 1995 for £4.5 million – the club’s most expensive signing at the time.
He was called up to play for England under Kevin Keegan, but never played other than one B international.
Armstrong later played for Bolton before ending his playing career back at Wrexham. The ex-striker was previously in court back in 2016 when he admitted possession of cannabis, cocaine and ecstasy.
Chair of the bench Alan Elias said: “Although the charge has been amended to common assault taken together with criminal damage it’s a pretty nasty incident.
“There was a punch and a kick on the floor to someone who was working. We think the community order threshold has been passed so it’s more than fineable.
“So we need to get reports from the probation service to find out more about you and a bit more about what happened on the day.”
Armstrong, of Ifield Street, Chelsea, was bailed to appear for his sentencing on March 1.
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