Derby announce punishments for Mason Bennett and Tom Lawrence after incident that left Richard Keogh injured
Derby County have handed Mason Bennett and Tom Lawrence hefty fines and ordered them to commit to 80 hours of community service orders following their role in the incident that left Ireland defender and Rams club captain Richard Keogh with a serious knee injury.
Keogh is not expected to play again until late 2020 after he was injured in a car crash that saw his team-mates Bennett and Lawrence arrested for drink driving offences, with the duo fined six weeks wages after a club investigation into the incident.
The sanctions have been issued after they were adjudged to have broken a curfew and brought the club into disrepute, with the club issuing this statement late on Friday evening:
"Derby County Football Club has completed the disciplinary hearing regarding Tom Lawrence and Mason Bennett in respect of their involvement in the events of last Tuesday evening, which resulted in both of them being arrested and scheduled to appear in court on 15th October.
"Irrespective of the outcome of that process, the club will not tolerate any of its players or staff behaving in a manner which puts themselves, their colleagues, and members of the general public at risk of injury or worse, or which brings the club into disrepute.
Both Lawrence and Bennett are therefore being fined the equivalent of six weeks’ wages – the maximum contractual limit - and will serve an additional 80 hours of community and rehabilitation, which will include a drink aware course. The club will be making no further comment regards this matter."
Comments from Mason Bennett were also published on the Derby website, as he offered an apology for his error of judgement.
"On the night of Tuesday 24th September, I made huge mistakes after consuming alcohol," stated Bennett.
"What I did was wrong. Being a footballer and someone who young fans look up to I know the example I set is key. I am ashamed.
"At 23 I am old enough, and I was brought up, to know better. I understand that such actions have serious consequences. I take full responsibility for my actions and accept the punishment that the club has issued.
"I have to and will learn from these events and will strive to be a better person. There's no excuse for what I've done. I'm sorry to my family, my friends, the club, all Derby supporters and to the wider football community, I let you all down."
This latest statement follows the initial comment from Derby after the club bonding session that created headlines on the front and back pages of the newspapers.
"The players were out as part of a scheduled team-building dinner with staff and while the majority of them acted responsibly and left at around 8pm and were not involved, a small group, including the team captain Richard Keogh, continued drinking into the night," the club stated.
"They should have known when to stop and also ignored the opportunity to be driven home using cars laid on by the club, and chose to stay out.
"As a result of an alcohol-related incident, Richard Keogh has sustained a serious knee injury that will prevent him from playing until the end of the season.
"The players involved in the incident will be subject to a rigorous internal investigation under the club’s code of conduct and disciplinary procedures, but over and above any punishment they receive we will be expecting them to become involved with the excellent work the Community Trust does helping the communities we serve.
"We have been very clear about our attitude towards alcohol and the players know that at certain and specific times of the season they are permitted a drink together as a group in a controlled environment.
"Those involved in this’s incident know they will pay a heavy price for their actions, but also that we will support them with their rehabilitation back into the squad and team."
Keogh's future at Derby is now in doubt with his contract due to expire in 2021, with news of his punishment yet to be announced by Pride Park chiefs.