Ford tried to help convicted former football player

Before he became mayor of Toronto Rob Ford testified as a character witness for a young man he once coached, who had been convicted of armed robbery.

Rob Ford called as character witness in 2007

Rob Ford testified as a character witness for a young man convicted of armed robbery in 2007. (Canadian Press)

A magazine aimed at the country's legal community has published an article that says Toronto Mayor Rob Ford tried to help an 18-year-old man he knew who had been found guilty of armed robbery.

The Lawyers Weekly says Ford, who was a city councillor at the time, appeared as a character witness for the teen in January 2007.

Crown attorney Brian Moreira says he remembers the 18 year-old who used a sawed off shotgun to rob a Toronto taxi driver.

Moreira also remembers Ford in the witness box at the sentencing hearing. He was the only character witness for the defence. 

"I was very surprised," Moreira told CBC News. "He was kind of a high profile guy even then."

Ford had coached the teen on his high school football team for three years.

He told the court he had a "soft spot" for the man, saying he was an excellent player who never missed a practice.

According to the article Ford was contacted by the former player and agreed to appear.

"He did call me last week, not asking me to come here, not asking me for a letter, just asking me when he gets out of jail, could I get him a tryout with a football team," the article quotes Ford from the court transcript. "I sort of have a soft spot in my heart for him."

But under cross-examination Morreira said Ford admitted he knew little about the man beyond football.

"The thrust of my cross examination was that Rob Ford said 'This is a good kid and was leader.'  But then when I showed him all of the bad things that he had done he conceded he didn't really know this kid that well," the attorney said.

The man was found guilty and sentenced to five years in prison. 

The mayor's office said it will not comment on the report.