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Drink-driver Wayne Rooney must do unpaid work for ‘terrible error in judgment’

The Everton striker and former England captain pleaded guilty to drink driving.

Footballer Wayne Rooney will have to carry out unpaid work in the community for his “terrible error in judgment” in drink-driving on a night out.

The former England and Manchester United captain was caught driving a woman’s Volkwagen Beetle in the early hours of September 1 when he was nearly three times the legal limit.

Admitting the offence on Monday at Stockport Magistrates’ Court, Rooney, 31, conceded he had let his family and himself down “very badly” and had also disappointed his fans as he received a two-year driving ban.

His legal team had asked District Judge John Temperley to consider whether imposing an additional community order would be “proportionate” as they highlighted his charitable work and the “unbelievable” media focus on him and his family since the incident.

But after hearing that Rooney was likely to be fined two weeks’ wages by his current employers, Everton FC, the judge said he was “not convinced” that a large financial penalty from the court would have the “same punitive effect” as a community order.

As part of his sentence Rooney, of Prestbury, Cheshire must now complete 100 hours of unpaid work in the community in his local area within the next 12 months.

Recently retired from England and during an international break from Premier League action, Rooney had reportedly left a cocktail bar in Wilmslow, Cheshire, in a taxi with lettings agent Laura Simpson, 29, and later went on to take the wheel of her vehicle.

His pregnant wife, Coleen, 31, and their three sons, Kai, Klay and Kit, were on holiday in Spain at the time.

Police on mobile patrol stopped Rooney in Altrincham Road, Wilmslow, at 2.10am – with Ms Simpson in the front passenger seat – after they noticed a rear tail-light out.

Media interest was high from the start (Peter Byrne/PA)

Rooney was “fully co-operative” as he gave a positive roadside breath test and was then taken to a local police station where he produced a reading of 104 microgrammes per 100 millilitres of breath, the legal limit in England and Wales being 35 microgrammes.

Officers described the footballer acting as “the perfect gentleman” while at the police station, the court was told.

His solicitor Michael Rainford told the hearing: “Wayne Rooney wishes to express his genuine remorse for what was a terrible mistake, a terrible error of judgment on his part that evening.

“He realises he has not only let himself down very badly but his family.

“Of course he has let down the fans, the young people who look up to him.”

Rooney has been banned from driving for two years an given 100 hours in unpaid community work (Peter Byrne/PA)

Rooney worked with Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and Clare House Children’s Hospice and other charities and foundations including his own, said Mr Rainford.

The solicitor added: “He is not somebody who pays lip service to the charities as so many often do.

“This is somebody who is actually hands on with the work he carries out.”

Mr Rainford also told the judge that Rooney was “no stranger to media pressure” as part of his daily life but since September 1 he and his family had been at the centre of “unbelievable media focus”.

Police stand guard outside the court. (Peter Byrne/PA)

On sentencing, Judge Temperley noted the “adverse effects” on Rooney and “perhaps more importantly on your family” but he said it was a serious offence in which he placed himself and other road users at risk.

He concluded: “I am not convinced that a high level of fine would have the same punitive effect as a community order would.”

Rooney was told his ban could be reduced by 24 weeks if he completed a drink-driving rehabilitation course by next February.

He must also pay £170 court costs.

Following the hearing which lasted less than 20 minutes, Rooney said in a statement: “I want publicly to apologise for my unforgivable lack of judgment in driving while over the legal limit. It was completely wrong.

“I have already said sorry to my family, my manager and chairman and everyone at Everton FC.

“Now I want to apologise to all the fans and everyone else who has followed and supported me throughout my career.

“Of course I accept the sentence of the court and hope that I can make some amends through my community service.”

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