Ex-Leeds star jailed for €3.5m drugs seizure

Eddie Von Boxtel

By Ken Foy Crime Correspondent

A FORMER Leeds United goalkeeper who once saved a penalty from Eric Cantona was jailed for seven-and-a-half years after he admitted possession of cannabis resin worth €3.5m for sale or supply.

Eddie Van Boxtel, (41) from Ballymun, has been in jail since February 2014 after he spent almost six years on the run in Holland, Spain and the UK where he was still actively involved in crime according to senior sources.

The former professional footballer is the third member of a four-man gang - who were busted in Co Kildare in February 2008 - to be sentenced for their role in the massive drugs seizure.

A European Arrest Warrant is in place for a fourth man, a 32-year-old criminal from Donaghmede who fled after the bust which gave gardai key information about the workings of the Christy Kinahan drugs syndicate.

The information that the drugs unit got about the Kinahan syndicate sparked an international investigation which led to the arrests of Kinahan and many of his closest associates in Spain's Costa-Del-Crime in 2010.

The two men who were previously convicted for their role in the bust at Kill, Co Kildare - Martin O'Connor (52) and Vincent Percival (40) - both pleaded guilty in 2008.

O'Connor, of North Great Charles Street, Dublin, and Percival, of Clongorey, Newbridge, Co Kildare each received nine-year sentences.

Last night, it emerged that the on-the-run 32-year-old bumped into senior officers from the Garda National Drugs Unit by chance in the Dutch capital of The Hague two years ago in an Irish pub.

The suspect was drinking at the bar when the two detectives walked into and noticed the fugitive with two other men.

When they recognised the gardai, the fugitive and his pals fled from the pub and he is not been heard of since.

Meanwhile, Van Boxtel - who also played for a number of League of Ireland clubs - was returned to the Midlands Prison in Co Laois last night after the brief sentencing hearing.

He was been in that jail since an incident in Dublin's Cloverhill Prison last September when he attacked a prison officer.


He tried to gouge his eyes in a bizarre attempt to impress 'Fat' Freddie Thompson who was also on remand in the west Dublin facility at the time.

Last November, Van Boxtel, who is from Sillogue Avenue, had pleaded not guilty to the drug-dealing charges but the trial collapsed.

He later changed his plea to guilty and was sentenced yesterday.

He was described by gardai as a "warehouse manager" for the gang despite his claims that he was simply employed by another man to "drive from A to B" after he complained "the taxi game is dead".