Paul Merson handed road ban


Ex-England footballer Paul Merson has been given a 14-month driving ban after a court heard how he crashed his Mercedes into a 38-tonne truck while over the legal alcohol limit.

Leamington Spa Magistrates' Court was told that the former Arsenal and Aston Villa star, who pleaded guilty to drink-driving, fell asleep at the wheel on the M40.

Merson, who suffered a head injury in the accident last October, was fined £1,500 and ordered to pay £105 in costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

Magistrates heard that the Sky Sports pundit was driving to his home in Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, after having "a few drinks" at a charity event in London.

Merson's Mercedes ML350 struck the rear of the heavy goods vehicle, damaging its rear lights and under-run bars, at about 3.15am on October 12.

Prosecutor Philippa Cowley said Merson, who was among several people who called the police, failed a roadside breath-test and was later found to have 124mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood - the legal limit is 80mg.

Merson, 43, was standing on the hard shoulder when two police constables arrived at the scene, said Ms Cowley.

"It was clear that he had got a head injury and he was very frank with the police," the lawyer told the court.

"He said that he had fallen asleep and had been at a charity do for children and had had a few drinks."

Merson, whose playing career included spells at Middlesbrough, Portsmouth and Walsall, was taken to hospital after the crash near Warwick.

Defence lawyer Steven Masih handed several references to the court on Merson's behalf and said his client had planned to stay at a hotel where his car was parked, but no rooms were available and he decided to drive home.

Offering mitigation for the offence, Mr Masih told the bench: "There is no-one more disappointed with what took place on the 12th of October than Mr Merson.

"When the police arrived he was very frank and very forthcoming with the officers - he was honest with them and told them exactly what had happened."

Merson, a father of five, had woken up at 6am on October 12 and had been busy during the morning before driving to London.

Accepting that the ex-footballer made a grave error of judgment, Mr Masih continued: "He decided it might be safe for him to drive home because he didn't feel particularly drunk.

"He's deeply remorseful and deeply regretful about this."


Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific