Ireland star avoids jail for second drink-drive offence
Soccer star Darron Gibson has been spared jail despite admitting a second serious drink-driving offence, after a judge said the player had a number of "significant psychological issues".
The ex-Republic of Ireland midfielder lost hundreds of thousands of pounds in bonuses after his contract with Sunderland was terminated in March, South Tyneside Magistrates' Court heard.
He smashed his Mercedes 4x4 into a taxi and five parked cars on St Patrick's Day as he drove from his flat in Durham to a physio session, finally smashing into a garden wall. Gibson wept during the hearing where it was said he had used sleeping tablets and drunk from a litre bottle of vodka the night before.
A roadside test recorded him having 105mg of alcohol per 100ml of breath - reduced at the police station to 95mg - when the legal limit is 35mg.
Gibson had already been banned from driving in 2015 when his car hit three cyclists while he was over the limit.
The 30-year-old, who played for Manchester United, Everton and Sunderland, knocked a taxi's wing mirror off in the latest incident, but carried on and smashed into parked cars. One stationary car ended up 20 metres from where it had been parked, said the prosecution.
Magistrates at the previous hearing indicated Gibson may be jailed, but District Judge Roger Elsey sentenced him to a two-year community order with 250 hours of unpaid work, including 30 days of rehabilitation activity.
Gibson must also pay one of the drivers £800 (€910) compensation, costs and a victim surcharge of £85 each and was banned from driving for 40 months.
Judge Elsey said: "You were clearly not in control of your vehicle and you put pedestrians and other drivers at risk of injury or worse."
But the judge did not jail him, saying: "You have a number of significant psychological issues for which it now appears you are receiving treatment."
The defence said Gibson had undergone counselling with a specialist from the Priory clinic and had seen a psychiatrist. Members of Gibson's family including wife Danielle were in court with him.
The defence said Gibson felt "heartfelt relief" no one was hurt.