Sunday 22 April 2018

Rugby star Danny Cipriani had 'glazed' eyes after he crashed into taxi, drink-drive trial told

England's Danny Cipriani
England's Danny Cipriani

Kate Ferguson

England rugby star Danny Cipriani had "glazed" eyes and his breath smelt of alcohol after he crashed his Mercedes car into a taxi, a court has heard.

The car was travelling "very fast" and "swerving and swinging" between the left and right hand sides of the road, and hit a silver Toyota Prius which had slowed down to try to avoid it, it is alleged.

Cipriani accused the taxi driver of hitting his car, but he had been drinking, could not stand up straight and was "stuttering" and could not speak properly, London's Westminster Magistrates' Court heard.

The taxi driver, Muhammad Qasim, said he suffered injuries to his neck, shoulder and lower back in the crash on Imperial Toad in Fulham, west London, at 5.15am on June 1 last year.

Sale Sharks player Cipriani, who has agreed a move to Wasps at the end of the season, denies drink-driving.

Katie Weiss, prosecuting, said police were called to reports of a traffic collision and found the taxi driver.

She told the court: "He said he picked up a passenger and was driving down the road. He saw a vehicle pull into Imperial road which sped towards him.

"It began to swerve in the road and it entered the side of the road that Mr Qasim was driving on, resulting in the collision."

She said Pc Shane Elsworth questioned Cipriani, who allegedly admitted he had been out drinking.

She added: "Questions were put to the defendant, he said he was the driver of the vehicle. Pc Elsworth said he could smell alcohol on his breath and said his eyes were also glazed over.

"He was asked if he had been drinking and he said 'Yes'. He was asked, 'When was your last drink?'. He said, 'An hour ago'."

Cipriani, from Raynes Park in south-west London, was breathalysed and found to have 67 micrograms of alcohol in 100ml of breath, it is alleged.

The 28-year-old, who has recently split up with Sky Sports presenter and Strictly Come Dancing star Kirsty Gallacher, wore a navy suit and open-collared white shirt and spoke only to confirm his name, age and address at the beginning of the hearing.

Mr Qasim told the court that he had just picked up his first passenger of the day when Cipriani crashed into him.

He was driving at around 20mph to 30mph and had slowed down to avoid Cipriani, who was "swinging here and there" as he drove down the road, Mr Qasim said.

He said: "As I was going down Imperial Road I spotted a black car which was coming towards me and it was swerving.

"The car was on the left hand side and sometimes on the right hand side, it was swerving.

"When I saw that the car was swerving and swinging here and there I slowed my car very slowly and during that moment the car hit me."

He said Cipriani attempted to carry on driving for another 200 yards but "he then stopped because he had damaged his two tyres - they were punctured".

He said his customer dialled 999 while he went over and spoke to Cipriani, who smelt of alcohol.

He said: "I asked him, why did you hit my car? He was aggressive and he was saying 'No, you hit my car, you hit my car'.

"I could smell the bad smell on his breath - I could smell alcohol.

"He could not stand properly and he was stuttering a lot."

He added: "I was driving at 20mph but he was driving very fast."

He said he saw the police breathalyse Cipriani before taking him away in a police van.

Press Association

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