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Ex-Wrexham, Tottenham, Crystal Palace player faces prison after Tesco cigarette rampage

An ex-Wrexham, Tottenham, Crystal Palace player faces prison after going on a Tesco cigarette rampage, court has heard this week.

50 year old Chris Armstrong admitted smashing up his local Tesco store because he couldn’t buy cigarettes, before lashing out at staff.

Armstrong, who made his professional debut for Wrexham in 1989 and later played for Crystal Palace and was once Tottenham’s record signing, punched and kicked a Tesco worker who tried to confront him.

Former Tottenham Hotspur star Chris Armstrong convicted of possessing  cocaine, ecstasy and cannabis - Mirror Online

He admitted assault by beating and criminal damage at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday and now faces time behind bars.

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 2021.

He was initially charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm, however the Crown Prosecution Service changed it on Thursday 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 rushed to the scene after reports of an aggressive and violent man who was smashing up the supermarket.

It’s reported that 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.“

A store worker, 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 ground.

He then kicked him in the shin as he was down before the defendant legged it 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.”

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Mckenzie Webster, defending, told the court that 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 see Armstrong carrying out unpaid work or rehabilitation activities with the probation service.

It’s not the first time he’s struggled with drugs, as in March 1995, Armstrong became the first-ever Premier League player to fail a drug test after testing positive for cannabis.

He returned within a month after attending a brief rehab programme, finishing the season on 18 goals for Crystal Palace.

Armstrong began his playing career in the Welsh National League, playing for Llay Welfare before signing with Wrexham in 1989.

He signed for Millwall before joining Crystal Palace and was then signed by Tottenham Hotspur in 1995 for £4.5m – which back then was the club’s most expensive signing at the time.

He was called up to play for the England national team under Kevin Keegan, but never played other than one B international.

Armstrong later played for Bolton Wanders before ending his playing career back at Wrexham.

He was previously in court back in 2016 when he admitted possession of cannabis, cocaine and ecstasy.

Chairman 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.“

He punched and a kick the victim on the floor. 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.

Twitter users reacted at hearing that the ex-Wrexham, Tottenham, Crystal Palace player faces prison after his Tesco cigarette rampage…

@Funwithflares: I remember Chris Armstrong sticking his head out the window of the away changing room at the East Stand Highbury waving at Arsenal fans in 1996 I think

@gg_gooner: This chump making more headlines than he did when he was playing 🤣

@marky249: Tottenham come and collect your legend

@TheCockneyTurk: I remember somebody suggesting we should’ve signed him instead of Bergkamp

@BornInRednWhite: Tesco getting battered everywhere they go

@StevePatten: This transfer window is getting to all of us.

@BigT_87: State of him… 😂😂😂

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