England footballer Jack Grealish has been banned from driving for nine months and fined £82,499 after crashing his high-powered Range Rover during March’s Covid-19 lockdown, while wearing mis-matched slippers.
The 25-year-old Aston Villa captain was sentenced at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, after previously pleading guilty to two charges of careless driving, including one linked to the incident in which his 4×4 hit two parked vehicles in Mereways, Dickens Heath, Solihull.
CCTV footage of the lockdown incident was played to court showing what prosecutors said was the £80,000 4×4 being “reversed at speed” and crashing into a Citroen van, then “swerving” across the road and smashing into a Mercedes car, in a “side-swipe” collision.
The video also showed the Range Rover mounting a kerb and veering into a wall.
A judge was told a witness had said Grealish smelled of “intoxicating liquor”, was unsteady on his feet and was slurring his words immediately after the early morning crash on March 29.
In mitigation, Grealish’s lawyer, John Dye, referred to a witness seeing the winger wearing odd-coloured slippers immediately after the collision, and put part of the reason for his client’s driving down to his choice of “totally inappropriate footwear”.
“It was stupid to go in a vehicle when he has got that footwear on,” said Mr Dye.
“He was wearing totally inappropriate footwear.
“That, in essence, is why he drove in that manner and you can assess the culpability.”
Mr Dye said Grealish had since paid for all the damage caused, adding: “He can afford to pay that and he’s resolved that.”
The lawyer added Grealish was only trying to move the Range Rover to avoid being clamped, adding the player was “deeply ashamed” and “genuinely sorry”.
The Premier League star, of Barnt Green, Worcestershire, was involved in the incident less than 24 hours after issuing a Twitter video message urging people to stay at home to save lives and protect the NHS.
Grealish previously admitted a charge of careless driving in connection with the March 29 crash, which happened six days after lockdown restrictions were imposed nationwide.
The winger, who the judge was told takes home £55,000 a week, had also admitted a second charge of careless driving relating to allegations he drove without due care and attention on the M42 reaching speeds of up to 98mph, on October 18.
Mr Dye said Grealish was “running late for training”.
He added: “He’s the club captain and didn’t want to be thought badly of by his peers in the club.”
The court heard once police traffic officers stopped Grealish just off the A446 at the entrance to the Aston Villa training site at Bodymoor Heath, he was “polite, calm and compliant and apologised” for the standard of driving.
Grealish already had six points on his licence after being convicted in October 2018 for speeding on a motorway on April 30, that same year.
District Judge John Bristow made clear there was “no evidence” Grealish had been drink-driving during the March crash.
You should not have been driving on March 29 – this is a further aggravating featureJudge
But he said it was an aggravating factor Grealish had known by June 2020 that he was being charged with an offence for the March crash, yet then chose to drive in an “intimidating” manner in October.
Sentencing, the judge told the winger: “The offence on March 29 was committed six days after the national coronavirus lockdown was announced.
“You should have been at home, you do not assert you had any proper reason not to be.
“You should not have been driving on March 29 – this is a further aggravating feature.”
He added: “The two offences were committed within seven months of each other, you have caused damage by your driving and you have driven in an intimidating way at excessive speeds on a motorway.”
Grealish was also ordered to pay costs of £220 and a victim surcharge of £181, bringing his total in costs and fines to £82,900 – all payable within seven days.
The winger will also have to apply for a new licence, once his ban ends.
Grealish left the court without comment, accompanied by a minder, before getting into the rear passenger seat of his Range Rover – now sporting black bodywork since the March incident.
Earlier, Grealish had arrived at court ahead of his sentencing, wearing a dark suit, black tie, and a cream-coloured double-breasted coat, donning a black face-mask.
Moments before his arrival, his Range Rover had pulled up outside the main entrance in front of waiting photographers and camera crews.
The 4×4 briefly distracted the media’s attention from the footballer – who just then arrived, separately, on foot, from a different direction.
Just seconds after Grealish walked into court, the male driver of the Range Rover emerged from the vehicle and handed a member of the waiting press a small box of Cadbury Milk Tray and said: “How long have you lads been waiting here?”