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Vincent 'vulnerable' to being targeted by fixers

Lou Vincent arrives at Southwark Crown Court with his partner Associated Press

The jury in Chris Cairns' perjury trial has heard that Lou Vincent needed the "release" of confessing to his involvement in match-fixing. Steve Pearson, a close friend who played cricket with Vincent in Auckland, also said that he was "vulnerable" and a "prime candidate" to be targeted by fixers.

Vincent has previously claimed in court that Cairns ordered him to fix matches, and Pearson was appearing as the case for the prosecution neared a close. Cairns, who denies two counts of perjury and perverting the course of justice, is expected to take the stand either this week or next.

Pearson said that Vincent's depression after being dropped by New Zealand left him in a "bad space" before he went to take part in the Indian Cricket League (ICL) in 2008.

"He couldn't get out of bed some days," Pearson said. Vincent then accepted a contract to play in the ICL for Chandigarh Lions, alongside Cairns. "He was looking at it as a fresh start. Mentally he was really struggling, he was looking at people for direction."

It was three years later, while playing in England, that Vincent told Pearson about being approached to fix matches at the ICL. "He got to the point where he needed to tell someone. It was a release for him," Pearson said.

After drinking together, Vincent proceeded to make a 10-hour confession to his friend that detailed how he deliberately underperformed under the direction of Cairns.

"That night he told me all about match-fixing." Pearson said. "He had taken instructions from Chris Cairns when he goes out to bat, to get a certain score and then get out."

Pearson also told the court how Vincent, who was playing for Sussex at the time, had stopped off after collecting him from Heathrow Airport to meet someone near Hove. Vincent opened the boot of his car and what Pearson later learned to be a bag of money was placed inside. Vincent subsequently admitted to fixing matches while in England as well.

Under cross-examination by Orlando Pownall QC, representing Cairns, Pearson agreed Vincent feared extradition to the UK.

Asked how he felt about what Vincent had told him, Pearson said he was "pretty shocked and disappointed and gutted and then really angry".

"When he left [for India], he was really vulnerable. He was a prime candidate to be approached," he added. The trial continues.