Belfast Telegraph

I've learned my lesson says Ulster ace Roger Wilson after drink drive shame

By Lesley Houston

Ulster Rugby star Roger Wilson has vowed not to get in trouble with the law again after his second drink-drive conviction left him with a three-year ban.

The former Ulster player of the year has spoken for the first time about the latest conviction.

The 34-year-old No.8 appeared in court in July after his car was seen driving on the wrong side of Portaferry Road in Newtownards four months earlier.

The arrest took place on March 22 when police found Wilson in the driving seat of his car, which had a ripped tyre and damage to the front.

His drink-driving incident - the second in seven years - occurred the day after Ireland's dramatic Six Nations triumph at Murrayfield.

The chastened star said that from now on he wanted his public profile to be one solely of rugby. "I've had a few events happen to me over the years and I really slipped up towards the end of last season," he said the day before an expected 184th appearance for Ulster against Treviso tomorrow night.

"You make mistakes and you've just got to move on and try not to repeat them. I just had to take the punishment, and I really hope that it's all about rugby now," he said.

Wilson admitted it was difficult awaiting the court case.

"I knew it was coming and what might be handed out to me, but I got my head around that," he said.

A former player with Northampton Saints, Wilson, who got married this summer, pleaded guilty at Ards Magistrates Court to driving while unfit through drink or drugs.

He also admitted two counts of failing to provide a breath specimen to police while under suspicion of drink-driving.

Acting on a report from a member of the public, PSNI officers who apprehended Wilson reported that his speech was slurred and he was unsteady on his feet when he got out of the car. Wilson refused three times to give an evidential breath sample at the roadside, and then again in Bangor PSNI station.

The court had heard how Wilson's reputation had been tarnished by the affair, and that Ulster Rugby had taken a stern view of his behaviour, docking him two weeks' wages.

Wilson's lawyer said his client had been at home drinking with a friend on the day of offence, and that he accepted his behaviour had amounted to "nothing but foolishness".

He added that the player had genuinely believed he was insured under Ulster Rugby's company car scheme.

District Judge Eamon King commented that it was "a big problem" Wilson had a previous conviction, but agreed to authorise him for a drink-driving awareness course, which could reduce his period of disqualification if successfully completed,

His first conviciton in 2008 occurred after he was caught driving with approximately twice the legal limit of alcohol in his bloodstream.

Belfast Telegraph

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