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Friday, 20 April, 2001, 13:39 GMT 14:39 UK
Pair jailed for Ferguson burglary
Duncan Ferguson
Ferguson's wife and daughter were in bed at time of raid
Two men who burgled the home of Everton striker Duncan Ferguson have been jailed for 15 months.

Michael Pratt, 23, and Barry Dawson, 22, admitted breaking into the footballer's house in Rufford, Lancashire, in January, and stealing expensive bottles of champagne, a framed picture, and CDs.

Everton striker Ferguson, 29, had been at home with his wife Janine and their six-month-old daughter on the night of the raid.

Judge Anthony Procter told Dawson and Pratt: "There is no way you can be called hardened criminals but we are dealing with a burglary at night when the house was occupied.

Mr Ferguson may give the impression of being a hard man, but it is clear he was shaken by this incident

Judge Anthony Procter
"Mr Ferguson may give the impression of being a hard man, but it is clear he was shaken by this incident, primarily for the effects on his wife and young child."

Ferguson, a former Scotland international, suffered minor injuries in the raid on his converted barn home.

Dawson, of Burscough, Lancashire, needed three days of hospital treatment following the incident, Preston Crown Court heard.

The court had heard that the Fergusons put their house up for sale after the burglary.

Michael Pratt
Pratt, who lived nearby, has previous convictions
The judge said: "A celebrity is entitled to the same protection as everyone else."

He added he had "no option" but to pass a custodial sentence.

The court was told the raid had not been planned but was an "impulsive and foolish act" spurred by alcohol.

Pratt, of Rufford, who has four previous convictions, lives near the star player.

He decided to show Dawson, who has one previous conviction, where Ferguson lived.

The pair sneaked into the player's garden and on finding the conservatory open, helped themselves to two bottles of champagne worth 100 each.

Controversial career

Ferguson saw them in the garden at about 0100GMT and managed to grab Dawson, restraining him until police arrived.

Pratt fled, but gave himself up to police the following day.

Barry Dawson
Dawson had recently returned from abroad
Ferguson rejoined Everton in a 3.75m transfer from Newcastle United last year.

He has had a controversial football career.

In 1995 he served 44 days in Barlinnie Prison after headbutting an opponent while playing for Glasgow Rangers in 1994.

He became the first professional footballer to be jailed for an offence on the field.

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