Former Essex fast bowler Mervyn Westfield has been sentenced to four months in prison after pleading guilty to charges relating to spot fixing elements of a domestic cricket game.
Westfield had pleaded guilty in January to a charge of corruptly accepting or obtaining, or agreeing to accept and obtain corrupt payments to bowl badly during a game against Durham on 5th September 2009. Previously, he had denied any involvement when questioned by the police.
In court, it was reported that Westfield deposited £9,000 in savings accounts in the six weeks following the two Pro40 games against Durham and Somerset that are understood to have been targeted for spot-fixing.
Former Pakistan international leg-spinner Danish Kaneria was named in court as Westfield's 'corrupter' by prosecutor Nigel Peters. Westfield was reported to have shown team-mate Tony Palladino money gained from the scam and revealed that it was set up by Kaneria.
In May 2010, Kaneria was arrested by Essex police in connection with 'match irregularities' in the 2009 season. By September 2010, the investigation had been closed and Kaneria was cleared of any allegations. He has not played international cricket since January 2010 in Australia and was not re-signed by Essex for the 2011 season.
The court also heard that in 2008, Kaneria was warned by the International Cricket Council (ICC) about his links with a suspicious bookmaker named Arun Bhatia. Furthermore, the court also heard that Westfield was not the only Essex player who was approached by Kaneria.
Westfield's defence told how the player had been persistently put under pressure by Kaneria and his associates, eventually agreeing to the deal on the night prior to the game against Durham. His defence also outlined that he Westfield had received no anti-corruption training before he accepted the bribe.
Kaneria was also alleged to have talked openly about match-fixing in front of Essex captain Mark Pettini, vice-captain James Foster and David Masters as well as approaching opening batsman Varun Chopra. Chopra left the club to join Warwickshire ahead of the 2010 season.
Westfield was released by Essex at the end of the 2010 season and has not played representative cricket since.
Westfield becomes the fourth cricketer to be handed a custodial sentence in the last six months for charges of corruption after Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir were similarly charged and found guilty late last year.
Butt and Asif were jailed for 30 and 12 months respectively after they contested the charges but were found guilty after a trial by jury although Amir, despite pleading guilty, was handed a six-month sentence in a young offender's institution.
The maximum sentence Westfield could have faced was ten years in jail. He will be forced to serve two months behind bars before being released on license.
© Cricket World 2012