Which sport stars have been given the longest UK prison sentences?

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·Freelance news writer, Yahoo UK
·5-min read
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LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 29: Former tennis star Boris Becker arrives at the Southwark Crown Court for sentencing after being found guilty of four charges under the Insolvency Act in relation to his bankruptcy, including failing to disclose, concealing and removing significant assets in London, United Kingdom on April 29, 2022. (Photo by Wiktor Szymanowicz/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Former tennis star Boris Becker arrives at Southwark Crown Court for sentencing on Friday. (Getty Images)

Former Wimbledon champion Boris Becker was today jailed for two-and-a-half years after flouting the terms of his 2017 bankruptcy.

At his sentencing hearing at Southwark Crown Court, former world number one Becker was told he had shown "no humility" after hiding £2.5m of assets and loans to avoid paying his debts.

But which professional sportspeople have been given the longest prison sentences by UK courts? Here, Yahoo News UK breaks down some of the main cases.

Gavin Grant (murder, life)

Left, Gavin Grant's mugshot released following his conviction and right, in action for Bradford City. (PA)
Left, Gavin Grant's mugshot released following his conviction and right, in action for Bradford City. (PA)

Bradford City footballer Grant was jailed for life in 2010 after being found guilty of the murder of Leon Labastide in the Stonebridge Park Estate, north-west London, in 2004.

Labastide was killed as part of a series of “tit-for-tat” shootings, the Old Bailey heard. Two accomplices, Gareth Downie and Damian Williams, were also jailed for life for murder.

Following the shooting, Grant commenced a career in the Footbal League. Quoted in The Athletic last year, Darren Byfield, a former team-mate at Gillingham, said: “He never showed any aggression in training. Never got into any arguments. To us, he was just such a nice guy.”

Grant was 26 at the time of his sentence. Detective Inspector Steve Horsley said outside the court: “Gavin Grant thought he had got away with murder. He carried on his football career while, all along, he had blood on his hands.”

Chris Lewis (drug smuggling, 13 years)

Former England cricketer Chris Lewis poses for a photograph at The Haymarket theatre in Basingstoke on April 10, 2019. - Chris Lewis's journey from opening the bowling for England in the 1992 World Cup final to contemplating suicide and being convicted of drugs smuggling has him feeling as ambitious as when he was a teenager he told AFP. The 51-year-old -- who represented England over 80 times in Tests and One Day Internationals -- said it was fear over being penniless that drove him to smuggle £140,000 ($183,000) of cocaine in cans of fruit into England from St Lucia in 2008 which would have earned him £50,000. The all-rounder -- who served six-and-a-half years of a 13 year prison term -- is presently touring with the play written by Dougie Blaxland (the pen name of former cricketer James Graham-Brown) about him called 'A Long Walk Back'. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP)        (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Chris Lewis poses for a photograph at The Haymarket theatre in Basingstoke in April 2019, when a play about his prison spell, 'The Long Walk Back', was being toured. (AFP via Getty Images)

Former England cricketer Chris Lewis was jailed in 2009 after being caught, with accomplice Chad Kirnon, smuggling liquid cocaine into Gatwick Airport following a flight from St Lucia. Lewis said he was driven by fears of being penniless.

Reflecting on his conviction, Lewis, who was released in 2015, told the Sky Sports Cricket Podcast in 2020: “Even before I landed, the idea that I was about to do what I was about to do, you know there is more than a good chance you might be stopped and searched.

"The first night in jail is hard to put into words but I was just scared, scared like no other. I was scared like a little boy.”

Luke McCormick (death by dangerous driving, seven years and four months)

Left, Luke McCormick arriving at Stoke Crown Court in 2008 and right, playing for Plymouth in 2015. (PA/Getty Images)
Left, Luke McCormick arriving at Stoke Crown Court in 2008 and right, playing for Plymouth in 2015. (PA/Getty Images)

Plymouth Argyle footballer McCormick was jailed in 2008 after admitting causing the deaths of brothers Arron Peak, 10, and Ben Peak, 8, by dangerous driving.

McCormick was over twice the legal alcohol driving limit when the crash happened on the M6 in Staffordshire. The boys’ parents told Stoke Crown Court they had been scarred forever.

Upon his release, McCormick resumed his professional career with Oxford United in 2013.

Lee Hughes (death by dangerous driving, six years)

Left, Lee Hughes at Coventry Crown Court in 2004 and right, playing for Oldham following his release. (PA)
Left, Lee Hughes at Coventry Crown Court in 2004 and right, playing for Oldham following his release. (PA)

West Brom footballer Hughes was jailed in 2004 after being found guilty of causing the death of Douglas Graham, 56, by dangerous driving in Meriden, Warwickshire, in 2003. Hughes had fled the scene on foot.

He was released in 2007 and resumed his professional career with Oldham Athletic.

Adam Johnson (child sex offences, six years)

Adam Johnson arriving at Bradford Crown Court for his sentencing in 2016, left, and scoring for Sunderland just days before his trial began, right. (PA)
Adam Johnson arriving at Bradford Crown Court for his sentencing in 2016, left, and scoring for Sunderland just days before his trial began, right. (PA)

Sunderland footballer Johnson was jailed in 2016 after he admitted two charges relating to kissing a girl, 15, and meeting her with intent after grooming her.

Johnson, who played 12 times for England, was also convicted by a jury of a further offence of sexual activity with a child when they met in his Range Rover in 2015, a conviction which he unsuccessfully attempted to overturn.

He was released in 2019 after serving half of his sentence, and has not resumed his professional career.

Ched Evans (rape, five years)

Ched Evans during his retrial in 2016, left, and playing for Preston this month, right. (Getty Images)
Ched Evans during his retrial in 2016, left, and playing for Preston this month, right. (Getty Images)

Sheffield United footballer Ched Evans was jailed in 2012 after being found guilty at Caernarfon Crown Court of raping a teenage woman at a Premier Inn during a night out in his home town of Rhyl.

He was released in 2014 after serving half of his sentence. Following the conviction being quashed at the Court of Appeal in 2016, he signed a contract with Chesterfield while facing a retrial. At that retrial later in the year, he was acquitted.

Evans continues to play professional football to this day, for Championship side Preston North End.

Other sports stars who have been jailed

SHEFFIELD, UNITED KINGDOM:  Former world boxing champion Naseem Hamed arrives at Sheffield Magistrates Court, 20 January 2006. He is charged with dangerous driving following a crash in his  GBP300,000  (Euro 450, 000) McLaren-Mercedes sports car. One man was seriously injured in the crash which happened on 2 May 2005. AFP PHOTO/PAUL ELLIS  (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Naseem Hamed arrives at Sheffield Magistrates' Court in January 2006. (AFP via Getty Images)
  • Ex-world champion boxer Naseem Hamed (pictured above) was jailed for 15 months in 2006 for dangerous driving. His sports car smashed into another vehicle, leaving driver Anthony Burgin with serious injuries

  • Pakistan cricket captain Salman Butt was implicated in a spot-fixing scandal during a 2010 Test against England at Lord’s. In November 2011, at Southwark Crown Court, Butt - along with Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir - was found guilty of conspiracy to cheat at gambling and conspiracy to accept corrupt payments. He was sentenced to 30 months in prison

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