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19-year-old tennis star’s career ruined as he is jailed for his role selling heroin and crack

 
 Promising 19-year-old tennis star’s career is in tatters as he is jailed for his role selling heroin and crack for a county lines drugs gang

A teenager tennis player’s promising career was ‘in ruins’ yesterday after he was jailed for joining a county lines drugs gang.


Nemiah Fletchman, 19, had been tipped for Wimbledon but threw away his chance at stardom ‘for the sake of a few hundred pounds’ when he sold heroin and crack cocaine for a Manchester-based gang.

The student, once ranked in the top 10 for his age in the country, became a county lines ‘foot soldier’ in a desperate attempt to pay off credit card and car debts.

Fletchman and two other 19-year-olds, Akeem Fatinikun and Cade Steven Higson, planned to flood Carlisle’s streets with heroin and crack cocaine to make quick cash, the city’s crown court was told.

The trio were arrested with drugs worth almost £9,000 on March 18 and admitted possession of Class A drugs with intent to supply. The court heard how Fletchman used his ‘imposing’ 6ft 3in physique to collect money from addicts.
Sentencing him to three years in a young offenders’ institution, Judge James Adkin said: ‘Your sporting career is in ruins and your family must be distraught.’

Fletchman taught himself to play tennis on run-down courts near his home in Moss Side, Manchester.

He had a 120mph serve by the age of 16 and competed in tournaments across Europe, with his coach comparing him to seven-time Wimbledon champion Pete Sampras. But the Manchester Metropolitan University student turned to crime to pay off his debts, and was ordered to travel 120 miles north to Carlisle.

The court heard how Fletchman and his two co-offenders forced frail drug addict Douglas Foster, 61, to move out of his flat on a run-down estate so they could use it as a base for their drug-peddling operation. Police investigated after being alerted to suspicious activity at the address.

Fletchman, Fatinikun – who was armed with two knives and had two phones – and Higson tried to flee but were captured.

Prosecutor Beccy McGregor said: ‘This is an offence of a “cuckooing” – a gang from Manchester bringing drugs into Carlisle. It is clearly street dealing.’

Paul Tweddle, defending Fletchman, said: ‘He was there to collect the money and take the money back.

‘That is because he is quite an imposing young man – 6ft 3in tall and extremely well built. He is a foot soldier who has very much been exploited. He knows what he has thrown away – all for a few hundred pounds.’

Fletchman sat with his head bowed and was supported in court by family members who, the court heard, felt a mixture of ‘anguish and despair’. The teenagers were each sentenced to three years in a young offender institution.

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