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DISASTER DOUBLES; Court shame of fallen darts star Wallace.

Byline: JAMES MONCUR

FOUR years ago, Scottish darts ace Les Wallace had the world at his feet.

He had been crowned Embassy world champion, was being chauffeured around in limos and had potential earnings of up to pounds 300,000 a year.

But yesterday, Wallace appeared in court after a spectacular fall from grace which saw him spiral from luxury living to a humble existence in a run-down flat.

The Scot, who picked up a cheque for pounds 38,000 when he won the Embassy title in 1997, was in the dock for failing to pay his council tax.

He admitted being in arrears to the tune of pounds 778.73 - and was warned that if he didn't pay up, he would be thrown in jail.The court heard the father-of-four had financial problems and could only afford to pay off the debt at pounds 150 a month.

Wallace, 40, said: "I am a self- employed plasterer and there has never been guaranteed work."

Southampton magistrate Susanne Swan ruled that he had committed "culpable neglect" and "willful refusal to pay council tax".

She gave Wallace a two-week suspended jail sentence and warned him: "This prison sentence will hang over your head until the debt is paid off.

"The first date the money is not paid, you will be brought back to court and the sentence will be activated."

Wallace's court shame is the latest chapter in the life story of a man who has gone from rags to riches and back to rags again.

Before his darts success, he had been an unemployed plasterer scraping by on just pounds 45 a week dole money.

But after spending 20 years dreaming about fame and fortune, he became only the second Scot ever to win the Embassy world title.

Although based in Southampton, Wallace showed his pride in his Scottish roots by wearing a kilt for the tournament and being led in by a piper.

He picked up nearly pounds 40,000 in the contest, turned professional and looked forward to earning a fortune from tournaments and exhibitions.

But four years down the line, the success story has turned sour.

Wallace is separated from his wife and children and lives in a run-down flat above a super- market in Southampton.

He still represents Scotland in international competitions and does exhibition matches. But his council tax disgrace shows the cash he earned from the arrows has dried up.

When he lifted the world crown in 1997, Wallace spoke of his Scottish heritage.

He said: "I am proud to be Scottish and that is why I wear my kilt for competitions.

"Being Scottish means a hell of a lot to me.

"As a nation, they don't have a chip on their shoulder and are a happy-go-lucky lot.

"One of my idols was Jocky Wilson and I've always tried to put Scotland back on the darts map with my arrows."

Yesterday, Wallace showed his roots again by wearing a Scottish rugby jersey in court.

This time, however, there was no fanfare to greet him. He just slipped in to face the music quietly.
COPYRIGHT 2001 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

 
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Feb 15, 2001
Words:518
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