Former soldier jailed for match-fixing, accomplice gets suspended sentence

Former AFM soldier Ronnie MacKay jailed for 18 months and fined €1,500, while Brincat was sentenced to one-year imprisonment suspended for three years, and ordered to pay a €1,500 fine.

Former AFM soldier Ronnie MacKay and another man, Chris Brincat have been handed jail and suspended sentences and fines for attempting to bribe players to fix matches

MacKay, who was dismissed from his duties in the AFM in 2014 and is currently undergoing separate judicial proceedings over other match fixing allegations, was also found guilty of committing an offence that he was duty bound to prevent and breaching a conditional discharge he received in 2010.

Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech, presiding the Court of Magistrates as a court of criminal judicature, had heard how the MFA’s Integrity Officer Frans Tabone had received a phone call from the president of Naxxar Lions FC in September 2012, informing him that one of the club’s players, Sunday Eboh, had been approached and offered a bribe.

READ MORE | Match fixing: convicted soldier with bribery history, two U-21 players facing charges

Eboh, determined to blow the lid off the actions of Brincat and Mackay, who was still listed as a football player by the MFA despite no longer being active in the sport, had insisted on going to police.

Prosecuting Inspector Melvyn Camilleri testified to being informed of a Naxxar player being approached and offered money to play badly in the club’s upcoming game against Gzira, by Tabone and Eboh.

Eboh had told the officer he was called up by teammate Jermain Brincat and told to meet him in Guardamangia. Upon arriving at the meeting point, he found Chris Brincat instead of Jermain. Brincat told Eboh that “another person was on his way and would explain things in detail.”

That person, Ronnie MacKay had offered him the bribe and assured Eboh that the president of Gzira FC had nothing to do with the meeting. The player asked whether anyone else was in on the deal, and MacKay said he had been the only one at that point.

MacKay had claimed the meeting with Eboh was to ask him whether he knew any players interested in the Futsal league, but the court said this explanation did not make sense.

The court noted that the accused both released statements containing several contradictions and inconsistencies as to who had asked whom to meet where, noting that it was suspicious to differ on these issues if the meeting was simply to ask about the player’s interest in futsal.

Eboh testified that both accused men had told him that “Gzira must win the game” and handed police a recording of the conversation he made on his phone. The conversation revealed that it had been MacKay who met with Eboh and Brincat on the day in question.

Noting that MacKay had already been found guilty of very serious offences, including insulting and using violence against a public official, he could not benefit from first-time offender reductions in punishment. MacKay was jailed for 18 months and fined €1,500, while Brincat was sentenced to one-year imprisonment suspended for three years, and ordered to pay a €1,500 fine.

Lawyers Veronique Dalli and Dean Hili appeared for Chris Brincat, while lawyer Franco Debono defended Ronnie MacKay.