Glentoran player John McGuigan sentenced on drugs charges

John McGuigan was arrested at a Belfast nightclub in March last year
John McGuigan was arrested at a Belfast nightclub in March last year

One of Northern Ireland’s most highly-rated young footballers must serve 220 hours community service for having quantities of ecstasy and cocaine, a judge has ordered.

Glentoran winger John McGuigan was warned he could be sent to jail if he does not complete the sentence.

The 21-year-old Irish League star was arrested at Shine nightclub in south Belfast on March 2 last year.

He pleaded guilty last month to two charges of possessing Class A drugs.

But McGuigan, who has represented Northern Ireland at junior levels, denied two more serious counts of possession with intent to supply and attempting to supply ecstasy.

He was cleared of those charges following a contested hearing at Belfast Magistrates’ Court.

Glentoran manager Eddie Patterson was among those who gave evidence in the case.

McGuigan, of Hawthorn Hill in Hannahstown, west Belfast, returned to court on Thursday for sentencing.

District Judge Ken Nixon said the amount of drugs involved was “at the high end of possession”.

However, defence counsel stressed the footballer’s previous clear record.

Barrister Martin Morgan said McGuigan is currently on loan to Danske Bank Premiership rivals Warrenpoint Town due to the criminal proceedings, scoring twice in six matches.

He also revealed his client has been offered trials in Thailand with professional club Phuket FC.

“There’s no doubt this is a very talented young man,” the lawyer insisted.

Following submissions Judge Nixon ordered the player to carry out 220 hours community service.

He told him: “If you fail to do that there’s a risk of imprisonment.”