TV presenter Ant McPartlin has said he is “truly sorry” after his drink-driving crash let down his family, friends and fans.
The £130,000-a-week star was banned from the road for 20 months and fined £86,000 after pleading guilty to driving while more than twice the legal limit.
McPartlin, 42, told police he was “ashamed and mortified” after crashing his car while drink-driving with his mother in the passenger seat.
Wimbledon Magistrates’ Court heard that McPartlin had been seeking help for “alcohol and emotional issues” at the time of the crash in Richmond, west London, on March 18, having recently split from his partner of 11 years.
Sentencing McPartlin on Monday, District Judge Barbara Barnes told him his behaviour had left fans disappointed and stripped him of his former “exemplary” character.
His £86,000 fine eclipses the £54,000 imposed on footballer Yaya Toure for the same offence in 2016, reported at the time to be the biggest sanction of its kind in the UK.
Speaking on the court steps following sentencing McPartlin said: “I just want to say I’m truly sorry for what happened.
“High standards are expected of me, I expect them of myself. I’ve let myself down, I let a lot of people down. And for that I am truly sorry.
“I’d like apologise to everybody involved in the crash and I’m just thankful no-one was seriously hurt.”
Moments earlier a loud bang was heard as two cars passing along the road, near a large crowd of photographers gathered on the pavement, appeared to collide.
McPartlin pleaded guilty to driving with 75 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35 microgrammes.
Prosecutor Katie Sinnett-Jones said his black Mini hit two other cars after losing control as he drove around a sharp bend at “considerable speed”.
He collided with another Mini Cooper before driving “straight into the front of an oncoming car” – a BMW with a doctor and her nine-year-old son on board.
The driver of the other Mini said in a statement: “Myself and my family were in deep shock as we believed we could have died as a result of Mr McPartlin’s reckless driving.”
The driver of the BMW – named only as Dr Ng – said she immediately looked over at her son following the crash to make sure he was OK and he said: “I’m dying mummy, I’m dying.”
“I saw he was physically fine with no major injuries, but in shock,” the statement said.
“He described how the car was coming around the corner ‘like a rocket’.”
She told how the airbags of McPartlin’s Mini had deployed and said she feared for the life of the driver inside.
“I’m horrified at how someone can drive so dangerously. I genuinely thought the driver of the black Mini had died as there was no movement and it was a really forceful crash,” she added.
Wearing a black three-piece suit, white shirt and black tie, McPartlin listened intently and nodded in the dock as the case against him was outlined.
His barrister Liam Walker said his client had been seeking treatment for “alcohol and emotional issues” at the time of the crash, adding that his mother was in the car with him.
He told the district judge the incident was down to “a brief relapse unbeknownst to his passenger”.
The court heard that in a statement to police days after the crash, McPartlin said: “I am very sorry I did this. I am ashamed and mortified that this happened.
“I accept full culpability for this and wish to apologise to all concerned.”
After McPartlin, of Chiswick, west London, was charged, ITV announced the Saturday Night Takeaway host would step back from his TV commitments, with co-presenter Declan Donnelly presenting the final two episodes of the show on his own.
McPartlin appeared alongside Donnelly on TV screens over the weekend as Britain’s Got Talent aired its pre-recorded audition shows.
But ITV confirmed Donnelly will host the live shows without his TV partner of almost 30 years.