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Former footballer jailed after conning Thierry Henry’s ex-wife in £170,000 scam

Former footballer Medi Abalimba has been jailed after conning Thierry Henry’s ex-wife in an £170,000 scam according to reports.

The 32 year old has been put behind bars for deceivingly taking the large sums of money from numerous individuals, including the former wife of the Premier League legend.

He not only did that, but fleeced his then girlfriend Claire Henry to pay for a luxurious five-star hotel stay and dentistry work, after randomly claiming to be a US Navy Seal.

Medi Abalimba pictured during his Derby County playing days

(Image: Liverpool Echo)

A court heard that the former midfielder had pretended to be part the special operations force, naming himself Miguel Johnson and was using a fake American accent throughout their relationship.

Ms Henry was married to Thierry for five years and is the mother of his first child.

Abalimba also defrauded record label manager Simon Belofsky and two unsuspecting chauffeurs, bringing the total amount involved in his deceptions to over £170,000.

The former footballer, who also played for Southend, Oldham, Derby and Crystal Palace, was on licence at the time of the frauds after being released from prison for a similar crime involving reality star Georgia Steel, who appeared on reality TV show Love Island in 2018.

He previously used the female’s card to pay for restaurants and designer clothes, with a court hearing that Abalimba met Ms Henry at a private members’ club in the summer of 2019.

Prosecutor Fer Chinner said: “He told her his name was Miguel Johnson and he was a Navy Seal and he put on a fake American accent. He kept that up throughout their entire relationship.

“In September 2019, Mr Abalimba disappeared. He told Ms Henry he had gone to Kuwait on military service. It is thought he may have been in custody at that time.

“They spoke on the phone every day for about four months. Ms Henry says she could hear sounds in the background consistent with a military operation.”

Abalimba, of Camden, north London, has been jailed for four years and two months after admitting 15 counts of fraud between January and March this year.

The court heard that the ex-footballer stayed at the Corinthia Hotel for about a month earlier in 2021, and used Ms Henry’s card at a cost of £38,000, arriving with a fleet of cars including a Bentley, Rolls Royce and a Range Rover and “trolleys of designer clothes”.

Claire Merry - Divorced from Thierry Henry, Daughter, Movies, Boyfriend,  Net Worth, Facts, Model, News, Money

The court heard Ms Henry discovered the fraud in March after she found unauthorised charges on her bank account for dental work, which Abalimba had undergone.

Ms Henry is said to be “distressed and embarrassed” about the fraud and didn’t want to give a victim impact statement to the court.

The court were told of how Abilimba defrauded Mr Belofsky, a former managing director at Universal Records, out of £10,500.

He also posed as American football player Tarik Cohen to persuade chauffeur Marc Bilton to spend £104,911 of his own money to pay his hotel bills whilst a second chauffeur, Matthew Luckhurst was also conned into renting him a Bentley, Range Rover and a Lamborghini at a cost of around £5,000.

Mark McDonald, defending, said Abalimba had become accustomed to a certain lifestyle while being a professional footballer.

Jailing him, Recorder Tim Godfrey said: “It’s clear to me that you are an accomplished fraudster and you had no scruples in committing these offences about the effect of your wrongdoing on your victims.

“You defrauded Ms Henry over a period of six months though you began your deception of her long before that. She was your girlfriend and you exploited that.

“The offending was sophisticated, sustained and involved abuse of a position of trust.”

Abalimba, of Camden, north London, was jailed for four years and two months on Wednesday, September 29

Former footballer jailed after conning Thierry Henry’s ex-wife in £170,000 scam

The court earlier heard that Abalimba was previously jailed for four years in 2014 after posing as former Chelsea player Gael Kakuta in similar scams.

Congo-born Abalimba was a midfielder playing youth football at the likes of Crystal Palace before he had trials at Manchester United and Manchester City.

He also played for Liverpool reserves and was eventually signed by Derby County before injury cut his career short.

According to transfermarkt, he was also on the books at other English clubs such as Oldham Athletic, Farnborough and Corby Town with his career seeing him drop down the leagues as the years went on.

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