Former King's Lynn footballer jailed after admitting drugs offences

Rory McAuley

Former King's Lynn Town footballer Rory McAuley who has been jailed after admitting drugs offences - Credit: Ian Burt

A former King's Lynn Town footballer whose sister was murdered has been jailed after being caught with almost half a kilo of cocaine.

Rory McAuley, 32, who joined the Linnets from Lowestoft Town in 2018, was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison on Thursday (May 12) having previously admitted being concerned in the supply of cocaine, possessing cocaine with intent to supply and possession of criminal property.

Rory McAuley who was jailed after admitting drugs offences

Rory McAuley who was jailed after admitting drugs offences - Credit: Norfolk Police

Norwich Crown Court heard McAuley, of George Fox Way, Norwich, had "exceptional, if not unique mitigation" following the murder of his sister Kerri McAuley, 32, in 2017.

Norwich Crown Court.

Norwich Crown Court where Rory McAuley and Ismail Thompson were sentenced after admitting drugs offences - Credit: Archant

Stephen Spence, prosecuting, said that co-defendant Ismail Thompson, 30, had been to McAuley’s home address at about 3pm on May 13 last year.

Ismail Thompson who has been jailed after admitting drugs offences

Ismail Thompson who has been jailed after admitting drugs offences - Credit: Norfolk Police

He was seen entering the address with a package and leaving with another before later being stopped at Station Lane, Hethersett and detained for a search.

Thompson was found to have a “block” of white powder in his underpants which turned out to be half a kilo of cocaine.

He was arrested while a search was carried out of McAuley’s Norwich address.

McAuley told police to look upstairs in his jacket where 496g of cocaine was found.

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Police also found £3,000 in cash in his bedroom.

Mr Spence said the phones of Thompson and another defendant Andrew Wallace, 34, of Fakenham Road, Great Witchingham, were examined and found to show the two of them had been involved in supplying drugs.

In terms of McAuley Mr Spence said he played a “significant role” but was “operating his own selling enterprise”.

McAuley appeared for sentencing having admitted being concerned in supplying class A drugs, possession with intent to supply and possession of criminal property. 

Thompson, of Harsnett Close, Norwich, appeared in court having previously admitted being concerned in the supply of cocaine and possessing cocaine.

Jenni Dempster QC, mitigating for McAuley, said there had been “truly exceptional circumstances” in this defendant’s case. 

She said in 2017 her client’s life, like that of his family, “didn’t just change, it ended in a sense”.

Kerri McAuley pictured with her brother Rory. Photo: McAuley Family

Kerri McAuley pictured with her brother Rory. Photo: McAuley Family - Credit: McAuley Family

It was then that his sister Kerri McAuley was murdered by her abusive ex-partner Joe Storey.

Ms Dempster said she would not rehearse the details of that murder again but insisted it amounted to “exceptional, if not unique mitigation”.

She said this was a defendant who had been “re-railing his life” following the “disaster that has been the reality of his and his family’s life since 2017”.

She said it led to a downward spiral in which his life was out of control.

Ms Dempster said it was in the interests of justice to “considerably reduce the starting point to reflect the exceptional if not unique mitigation” on his behalf. 

She also insisted that McAuley had only been involved over a five week period.

Ian James, mitigating for Thompson, said his client deserved credit for his pleas.

He said Thompson, who has no previous convictions for drug offences, had a number of references, said those who had spoken on behalf of the defendant said they found the offences he had been charged with incompatible with the person they knew.

He said he found himself in a difficult position during the Covid pandemic and was concerned about what would happen if he did not find a way to make some money, but had taken "the wrong way”. 

Mr James said the defendant could be treated as someone of “positive good character”.

Judge Anthony Bate said McAuley was a footballer with some “considerable success in the local leagues and also described how his life had been blighted by “family tragedy of which this court is only too aware”.

Judge Bate also noted the character references on behalf of Thompson, who he jailed for six years, but insisted that anyone who supplies class A drugs in Norfolk “must expect to be jailed”.

He added: "It’s an evil trade which brings much misery in its wake”.

McAuley was suspended from all football-related activities at King's Lynn Town in June 2021 following his arrest. 

He left the club in September last year and since signed for Bedford Town FC.