Footballer Darron Gibson sentenced over drink-driving charge
Ireland international footballer Darron Gibson has been sentenced to a 12-month community order and banned from driving for 20 months after he ploughed into three cyclists in the UK and drove off.
Gibson, 27, was also over the legal drink-drive limit when his vehicle mounted the pavement in Bowdon, Cheshire, and struck the men who had stopped at the roadside to fix a broken bicycle chain.
The Everton and ex-Manchester United midfielder then sped off in his black Nissan Skyline GT-R Nismo from the injured trio before he pulled into a nearby petrol station on the morning of August 16.
Police were called by a concerned garage attendant after Gibson hit a petrol pump and began filling his vehicle with fuel while wearing no shoes.
Officers noticed an "obvious strong smell of alcohol" on Gibson's breath when they attended, and the footballer and his vehicle were then positively identified by one of the cyclists.
Gibson was arrested and taken to a police station where he gave a positive reading of 57 microgrammes per 100 millilitres of breath - the legal limit being 35.
Today, the player entered guilty pleas at Trafford Magistrates' Court to driving with excess alcohol, driving without due care and attention and failing to stop after a accident had occurred.
Gibson must perform 200 hours of unpaid work as part of his community sentence and was ordered to pay £4,500 (6,100 euro) in damages caused to one of the bikes, a carbon composite model which was written off.
He was told to pay £1,000 (1,360 euro) compensation to the cyclist who he directly hit and £100 (136 euro) each to the two other men.
Gibson was also told to pay £295 (400 euro) court costs.
Prosecutor Subhanar Chowdhury said the defendant fully acknowledged to police what he had done.
Gibson told police that he had been out the previous evening with Everton team-mates and had drunk "copious amounts of alcohol".
He said he later arrived home and had an argument with his wife which led to him leaving in his car.
Before sentencing, chair of the bench Susanne O'Connell asked the footballer, standing in the dock, if he wished to say anything to the court.
He replied: "I am extremely apologetic and it was completely out of character. I never usually do anything like that."
Noting he was a father of two young children, she said: "Imagine if a police officer came to your house and told you your children had been involved in a car accident, how would you feel?"
Gibson said: "Angry."
Ms O'Connell continued: "Then you find out that the driver was over the drink drive limit. You could also face the fact that your children could have been killed and you could have been that driver.
"How does that make you feel today?"
Gibson replied: "Embarrassed and sorry."
Ms O'Connell asked: "If you could turn back the clock?"
Gibson: "I would not have gone out the night before, never mind get in the car."
A statement from the most injured cyclist, Philip Quinn, was read out to the court in which he recalled hearing "the roar of an engine and the skidding of tyres" at the junction of Park Road and Dunham Road.
The next thing, he recalled, he was thrown into the air off his Kuota K-Uno bike.
He said: "I saw my bike laying on the road in pieces and the black car driving on to Dunham Road at speed.
"I initially thought the car had hit us on purpose because it mounted the pavement."
Mr Quinn said he sustained cuts to both legs, swelling to his left leg, cuts to his left elbow and right hand, as well as pain to the left side of his ribcage and bruising and soreness to his lower back.
The second cyclist, Simon Howe, suffered soreness to his hips and back after Mr Quinn's bicycle struck him in the collision.
No details of the injuries sustained by third cyclist Andrew Moran were provided to the court.
Oliver Jarvis, defending, told the court: "I take absolutely no issue with any of those facts that have been opened.
"The tone of mitigation is of remorse, apology, embarassment, shame and regret."
Passing a letter to the bench from the club secretary of Everton, the solicitor said Gibson had never had any disciplinary issues at the club.
He said: "This is a man who has led an impeccable life until this appalling catalogue of offending behaviour that morning.
"I make no excuses. He specifically asks me not to make any for him.
"The defendant had been out the night before to celebrate a birthday with some of the other players at Everton.
"The wives were out separately.
"The defendant was happy to be out because he had not played with the team until April previously."
He said Gibson had injury problems, a fifth metatarsal fracture and latterly a stomach injury which led to a hernia and an operation.
Gibson was "very low" at not being able to play and had taken "various painkillers" following his operation, Mr Jarvis said.
On the night out he drank mainly lager and later "one or two vodkas".
The solicitor said Gibson, who did not usually drink, later had an argument at home with his wife, Danielle - who sat in the public gallery today.
Mr Jarvis said he did not intend to go into the details of their row and said that Gibson left their home in Bowdon "not going anywhere in particular".
He went on: "The defendant's recollection of the events is hazy. He accepts everything that has been said about him.
"He remembers ringing his wife at the petrol station (Shell garage in Dunham Road) saying he had been involved in an accident.
"His father-in-law then came and paid for his petrol.
"It is out of character. The defendant is extremely apologetic and remorseful, not just for the embarrassment he has brought on his family back home in Ireland but his wife and the football club he plays for."
The court heard that Gibson had no previous convictions and had driven since the age of 19.
Derry-born Gibson was told his ban could be reduced by five months if he completed a drink-driving awareness course.
He left the court without comment.