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Lawyer faces life behind bars

PUBLISHED: 08:30 24 August 2002 | UPDATED: 12:31 03 March 2010

FORMER high-flying lawyer and international sportsman James "Jimmy'' Neale is today facing life behind bars for masterminding a £5 million drugs smuggling operation.

FORMER high-flying lawyer and international sportsman James "Jimmy'' Neale is today facing life behind bars for masterminding a £5 million drugs smuggling operation.

Ex-England hockey star Neale, who during the 1970s and 1980s enjoyed the high life in East Anglia with his beauty queen wife, has been convicted of smuggling Australia's biggest haul of pure ecstasy.

Under tough Australian anti-drugs legislation, 56-year-old Neale has been told to expect to spend the rest of his life in prison, with no prospect of parole. He will be sentenced later this year.

It represents the final shame of a man who once appeared to have everything: a successful career, a glamorous lifestyle, a palatial home near Colchester, and a happy home life.

He first fell from grace in 1985 when he was struck off as a solicitor. Two years later, he was branded a disgrace to his profession by a judge who jailed him for two years for cheating banks and clients out of £200,000.

After his release he re-established himself in the business world, but in 1995 he was jailed again, this time for 18 months, for fraud.

His wife Rosemary, a former Miss Ipswich and Miss Norwich, left him. Then, in 1999, she was battered to death by the couple's mentally ill son Jonathan. The 21-year-old schizophrenic was detained indefinitely under the Mental Health Act.

Last night, Rosemary's father Gordon Chatten, said Jimmy Neale had "no heart and no conscience. He will get what he deserves.''

Mr Chatten said: "As far as I am concerned he will get what he deserves, I can't be sympathetic.

"The trouble with Jimmy was he was always after the big money. He had the world at his feet but it was never enough. He was greedy, and even when he had everything going for him he went for bigger money and lost it all."

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