Racing: Williamson just avoids prison

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NORMAN WILLIAMSON was told by magistrates yesterday that he had avoided going to prison by a whisker when he was sentenced for drink-driving. A court in Gloucester sentenced the jockey to 100 hours' community service and banned him from driving for three years after he admitted driving at more than three times the legal limit.

The chairman of the bench, Clive Thomson said: "You have only just missed custody by a whisker and you must be certain when you get your licence back it doesn't happen again."

Williamson was stopped by police on the A417 near Gloucester on Valentine's Day. The court heard he had been drinking in a pub near his house after missing out on riding Decoupage to victory in the Tote Gold Trophy at Newbury the previous day due to injury.

Robin Leach, defending, said that Williamson had not intended to drive but returned home to find a message from the trainer Venetia Williams asking him to ride out at her Herefordshire stables early the next morning.

He decided to make the 90 mile journey to Herefordshire in his luxury Lexus car but was stopped at 10pm.

Mr Leach told the court that Williamson had no previous convictions for drink-driving and produced a letter to the magistrates from Williams testifying to his good character.