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Millwall FC chief executive Andy Ambler defends convicted Gravesend killer Eddy Ives' sister Meranda Eccleston as 'honest and loyal' in court

18 December 2013
by Julia Roberts

The words were used to describe Meranda Eccleston by her boss, Millwall Football Club chief executive Andy Ambler, and a former Metropolitan Police chief superintendent.

Both men gave character references for 35-year-old Eccleston, who is in the dock at Maidstone Crown Court in relation to her 29-year-old brother's trial earlier this year for the manslaughter of Ben Mahoney.

Millwall Football Club chief executive Andy Ambler gave a character reference for Meranda Eccleston

Millwall Football Club chief executive Andy Ambler gave a character reference for Meranda Eccleston

Mr Mahoney, 30, was fatally attacked by the former schoolboy champion boxer in the House on the Hill kebab shop in East Hill, Dartford, on April 12.

In September Ives, formerly from Gravesend, was found guilty of killing Mr Mahoney. He was jailed for eight years.

Killer Eddy Ives was jailed for eight years

Killer Eddy Ives was jailed for eight years

Eccleston, of St Gregory's Crescent, Gravesend, and 42-year-old Thereza George, of Hampton Crescent, Gravesend, are on trial accused of communicating details of prosecution witnesses to George's 37-year-old partner Neil Sookoo.

The court heard the information was given to the two women by Ives while he was on remand in Lewes Prison, Sussex, awaiting his trial.

It is alleged Sookoo, also of Hampton Crescent, then interfered with one of the witnesses, kebab shop owner Cafir Zorlu.

Eccleston, George and Sookoo all deny perverting the course of justice between June 11 and 14. Sookoo also denies intimidating Mr Zorlu on June 13.

Eccleston - who works at Championship club Millwall as assistant head of ticketing - became tearful as the two character references were read out, one from Mr Ambler and the other from Millwall's operations and security adviser Kenneth Chapman.

Mr Ambler said: "She is one of the most valued members of staff, showing high professional standards in her work."

Mr Chapman, who was in the police force for 33 years, rising to the rank of chief superintendent, said Eccleston - who originally worked at the club as a catering assistant - displayed "complete integrity" in her job.

Tragic Ben Mahoney died after being beaten in a kebab shop

Tragic Ben Mahoney died after being beaten in a kebab shop

He added she had also received many tributes from supporters and that both he and Mr Ambler were proud to have her as a member of staff.

"She is both loyal and honest," he said.

At the start of the trial, the jury was told Ives had admitted the same charge of perverting the course of justice.

Prosecutor Ian Hope said despite Ives' guilty plea, it had to be proved that Eccleston, George and Sookoo acted in the course of the same criminal enterprise.

The Dartford takeaway where Ben Mahoney died

The Dartford takeaway where Ben Mahoney died

However, Mr Hope added Ives' admission of guilt was "crucial" as it proved a criminal enterprise existed.

"The question is whether the actions of the other three defendants were in knowing pursuit of that criminal enterprise."

The jury is expected to retire to consider its deliberations tomorrow.

Ives will be sentenced at a later date.

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