Aston Villa star banned from driving after four offences
Aston Villa footballer Barry Bannan was banned from driving for 18 months today after admitting four offences - including driving with excess alcohol - following a motorway crash last month.
The 21-year-old midfielder, from Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham, was also fined £4,500 at Nottingham Magistrates' Court.
Bannan crashed his Range Rover Sport on the southbound carriageway of the M1 near Watnall, at around 5.30am on October 23.
He was charged with drink driving, failing to stop after a road accident, driving without due care and attention and driving on a provisional licence.
The court heard that the footballer was almost twice the legal limit.
Scotland midfielder Bannan had been on a night out with friends in Leeds following Aston Villa's 2-1 home defeat at the hands of local rivals West Bromwich Albion.
A friend collected Bannan and they left for Leeds at 6.30pm.
Mr Bannan drank two cans of beer on the journey then drank more at a nightclub that night, magistrates heard.
He got a taxi to his hotel at 3am and waited for his friends to return.
When they failed to return, Bannan decided to get changed and drive back to Birmingham as he feared he would miss a meeting with a youth football team coach who he had known for 11 years.
Bannan said he took the decision to drive as he felt "alert, in control and clear headed", the court heard.
Bannan had been driving for about an hour when he failed to make a bend and hit the central reservation, the court heard.
The car span and came to a stop 300 metres away in the fourth lane.
After getting the car to the hard shoulder, the footballer saw a motorway worker on his mobile phone.
Fearing he was calling the police, Bannan panicked and fled over fields to a taxi office in Bulwell. It was here that he was arrested.
The footballer, who has held a provisional licence for three years, was found to have 61mg of alcohol to 100ml of breath - the legal limit is 35.
He believed himself to be "a safe and confident driver" who practised regularly with his girlfriend who had a licence and was insured on his car, Adrian Darbishire, representing the footballer, said.
Bannan was sorry for what he had done and had admitted it was "foolish and immature".
He said he had never driven under the influence of alcohol before and "never would do again".
"It was foolish and I am sorry."
In mitigation, Mr Darbishire said of Bannan: "He is a young man in the public eye. He views these proceedings very seriously and his actions were out of character."
The Range Rover was found to have no mechanical defects.
The footballer was fined £2,200 for driving with excess alcohol and a further £2,200 for the charge of failing to stop after a road accident.
He was also ordered to pay costs of £85 and a surcharge of £15.
He was disqualified from driving for 18 months, but was told this would be reduced by four months and two weeks on completion of a drink-driving rehabilitation course.
Magistrates said they would impose no further penalty for the further two charges.
A passenger in the car, Shrewsbury Town striker James Collins, was also arrested on suspicion of drink-driving and failing to stop at the scene of an accident following the incident.
He was subsequently released without charge, Nottinghamshire Police confirmed.