England

Stoke City's Jermaine Pennant given suspended sentence for drink-driving

Jermaine Pennant
Image caption Pennant crashed his BMW in Sale on 29 April

Footballer Jermaine Pennant has avoided a jail sentence after admitting driving home from a nightclub while drunk.

The Stoke City star admitted being over twice the legal limit, driving while disqualified and without insurance in Greater Manchester on 29 April.

The winger was arrested after crashing his BMW in Cross Street, Sale, Trafford Magistrates' Court heard.

Pennant was banned from driving for three years and given an eight-week jail sentence, suspended for a year.

The former Liverpool, Birmingham City and Arsenal player was also fined £80 costs and given a 12-month supervision order.

On passing sentence, District Judge Khalid Qureshi said the jail term had been suspended due to the previous offences taking place a "considerable time" ago.

The court heard he had already been banned from driving earlier that month by magistrates in Cannock, Staffordshire, but he claimed he was not aware of the ban as a letter had not reached him.

The 29 year old, of Pool Lane, Sandbach, Cheshire, was "depressed and stressed" after months of turmoil in his private life and suffering taunts while in the nightclub.

'Relationship over'

Pennant had been playing football earlier that day and had arranged for his estranged partner and their 20-month-old child to come to see him perform but they did not turn up.

When he got home, he found his new girlfriend had taken all her belongings and he received a text message telling him their relationship was over.

He then decided to go out to a nightclub in Manchester with friends but while there he became "distressed" because of comments circulating about his former partner, his lawyer said.

He said this "broke the camel's back" and Pennant, unable to book a hotel room in central Manchester, decided to drive home.

It was then that he crashed at about 05:30 BST.

The court heard the defendant may have been speeding and gone through a red light, but he was not prosecuted over the minor crash.

When breathalysed he gave a reading of 89mcg of alcohol in 100ml of breath. The legal limit is 35mcg.

The judge said: "I accept this had not been a pre-planned decision to drive.

"The circumstances which arose you found difficult to deal with and led you to believe the only option you had was to drive your vehicle, to get away from an unpleasant situation, you had no option."

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