Football manager relieved after his ‘drug hell’ ends

Craig Bicknell
Craig Bicknell

A football manager has described his arrest and trial on suspicion of drugs supply as “15 months of hell”.

On Wednesday the Crown Prosecution Service dropped a charge of conspiracy to possess Class A drugs (cocaine) with intent to supply against Craig Bicknell – two weeks after a jury found him not guilty of an identical offence.

This ended a 15-month ordeal for the Milton Keynes businessman, who manages Leighton Town FC.

Mr Bicknell said: “It has been a terrible time – I feel like I have aged 10 years. I always knew I was innocent of everything but having to say goodbye to my kids in case something happened was such a bad moment.

“My wife was put through so much as well, she has already said that she never wants to talk about it again.”

Mr Bicknell, 37, was arrested alongside his brother Paul at his home in August 2013 by officers who had been investigating the supply of Class A drugs around Milton Keynes.

After being held in custody and interviewed by officers for two days he was bailed, before later being charged with two counts of conspiracy to possess Class A drugs with intent to supply on December 13.

Paul Bicknell was charged with the same offences, and their trial took place last month.

Paul Bicknell was cleared of both charges while Craig Bicknell was found not guilty on one, with a hung jury on the other; he was forced to wait another fortnight before going back to court, where the CPS dropped the case by offering no evidence on the second charge.

Mr Bicknell said: “There was never any proper evidence against me, no drugs, money or paraphernalia was ever found at my home or on my person. Associates of mine are now serving prison sentences on this and when they went through phone records I came up.

“It was from there a conspiracy was put together that things were being organised.

“At the time my brother was staying with me and he borrowed my phone a couple of times and when the officers arrived at my home they arrested both of us.

“I was so shocked when we were charged as the conspiracy theory was so complex.

“We were under surveillance for a year before the arrest but they never had any evidence against us.”

The ordeal also had wide-reaching implications for Paul’s wife and two children (aged five and nine), who he was forced to say goodbye to before the end of the trial.

Paul said: “It was in my head every moment and I was treating each of my children’s birthdays as if it could have been the last one in years.

“I spent the last two days before the end of the trial with my wife and children and it hung over me the entire time.

“It is especially tough when you know you have done nothing wrong.”