05:00PM, Monday 25 July 2016
A 'robbery spree' has ended the footballing career of a former Marlow FC coach after he was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Nathan Ashton, who has also played for Wycombe Wanderers, Crystal Palace, Fulham and Millwall, pleaded guilty to a host of charges, including robbery, conspiracy to rob and possession of an imitation firearm.
The court heard the 29-year-old, of Pitcroft Avenue, Reading, and Ohmar Pike, 27, of St Hugh's Avenue, High Wycombe, had carried out a string of raids on bookmakers between February 2015 and October 2015 in High Wycome and West London.
According to officers, a similar strategy was used in each robbery, with a chair or bin used to wedge the front door to the shop open to prevent them being trapped inside.
In several instances, staff were threatened with what they believed to be a firearm and on one occasion a cashier was threatened with being shot if he didn't hand over the money.
One raid on a Coral bookmakers, in High Wycombe, on October 30, came just days after midfielder Ashton had played for Marlow in a 5-0 victory over league rivals Bashley FC, according to the club's website.
On Friday, July 15, 27-year-old Pike was convicted of conspiracy to rob, but found not guilty of conspiracy to possess a firearm or imitation firearm, with intent to commit offences of robbery at Kingston Crown Court, in South West London.
He was sentenced to 11 years in prison on Wednesday, July 20, alongside Ashton.
Speaking afterwards, detective constable Matt Kent, of Thames Valley Police (TVP), said: "Extensive work between TVP and the Flying Squad as part of a joint investigation linking both men to the series of robberies at bookmakers' across the South East, led to both men being charged and subsequently convicted of the offences.
"The lengthy prison sentences handed to both should act as a deterrent to anyone else considering such violent offences."
Detective constable Lee Davison, of the Met's Flying Squad, added the amount of evidence against Ashton had given him 'no other option but to plead guilty', while 'the jury also saw through Pike's testimony and convicted him'.
Mark Bartley, head coach at Marlow FC, said he had had no inkling of the double life Ashton had been leading while with the team, adding the news had come 'completely out of the blue' for everyone at the club.
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