Jack Grealish banned from driving for nine months and fined after pleading guilty to careless driving

Aston Villa captain pleaded guilty to two driving offences in March and October respectively

Jack de Menezes
Sports News Correspondent
@JackdeMenezes
Tuesday 15 December 2020 11:56
Aston Villa's Jack Grealish arrives at court

Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish has been banned from driving for nine months and given an £82,499 fine after pleading guilty to two counts of careless driving.

The England international appeared at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday morning for sentencing after pleading guilty to the charges last month. The 25-year-old was also ordered to pay an additional £220 in costs and a £181 victim surcharge.

Grealish pleaded guilty to two driving offences on 24 November, the first of which occurred during the UK national lockdown just a day after he posted a video on social media asking for people to stay at home to protect the NHS amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Two other alleged charges against Grealish were dropped last month due to a lack of evidence.

READ MORE: Jack Grealish pleads guilty to two driving offences

Grealish’s solicitor said that the midfielder was “deeply ashamed” by the incident and was “genuinely sorry” for his actions, and that upon reflection he should have “modified” his driving after being involved in the original incident in March.

"Mr Grealish acknowledges that his driving on these two occasions was very poor,” said Mr John Dye, defending.

"He is deeply ashamed about that. He is somebody genuinely sorry, not just because reputationally this is problematic for him. He has reflected on his driving.

"He is deeply sorry and deeply ashamed of being here in court, his home court. He has never been to court before. He is a man of good character."

Grealish was involved in an incident on the morning of Sunday, 29 March, at Waterside, Mereways in Dickens Heath, when his white Range Rover was seen colliding with several other vehicles. CCTV shown in the court showed his car mount a kerb, with another clip showing Grealish walking down the road wearing two different coloured sliders on his feet, light coloured shorts, a light coloured top and with his hood up.

A security guard confronted Grealish after the incident and said that he witnessed him collide with a Mercedes and a Citroen van, and being “chased” the professional footballer left his name, address and phone number. The man also said that he could smell an ‘intoxicating liquor” on Grealish’s breath, with his speech slurred and a general unsteadiness on his feet, according to prosecutors.

Grealish’s solicitor said that the odd footwear may have contributed to the incident in the first place. "The footwear was totally inappropriate for driving his vehicle. It may be an explanation as to why he reversed back the way he does. That is his fault.

"It was stupid to go in a vehicle when he has got that footwear on. That in essence is why he drove in that way. What happens after is somewhat blind panic. He tries to put everything right and makes everything worse.

"To his credit he stayed at the scene. He told people at the scene he would pay for damage. In fact he has paid for the damage. There is no application for compensation. He can afford to pay for it and he has done."

Jack Grealish leaves Birmingham Magistrates’ Court after being banned from driving for nine months

The court was then shown dashcam footage of the second incident on the afternoon of Sunday 18 October. An unmarked police car is seen to be following Grealish’s black Range Rover on the third lane of the M43 between junctions 6 and 9, where he repeatedly approaches cars in front in an apparent attempt to force them out of his way. Police officers in the car were required to travel at speeds up to 98mph to keep up with Grealish, and after following him to Bodymoor Heath Road near Villa’s training ground he was stopped by police turning on their sirens.

One officer was heard to say: “Lovely, that will do”.

Grealish explained that he was running late for training, with Mr Dye adding that failing to turn up to Bodymoor Heath on time would have set a bad example for his Villa teammates.

"He was going to training and was running late. He is the club captain and he didn't want to be thought badly of by his peers at his club,” Mr Dye added.

"If he could go back in time he would do. The police officer who spoke to him described Mr Grealish as polite, calm and compliant throughout. He apologised for his driving which shows his immediate remorse in relation to that."

Grealish explained he was speeding due to being late for training

Prosecutor Tinofara Nyatanga asked District Judge John Bristow to issue a driving ban of more than six months based on the evidence, and although defending solicitor Mr Dye objected to her suggestion to express his “surprise” with the comments. District Judge Bristow stressed that he would not be swayed by any suggestions and would “make his own mind up”.

But District Judge Bristow said that he “could not be sure” Grealish had driven with excessive speed and that there was “no evidence” that Grealish was over the drink-drive limit at the time of the incident.

Earlier in the day, Grealish attempted to deceive media gathered outside the court after using his car as a decoy. As the black Range Rover pulled up outside, Grealish approached the building on foot from the other direction, wearing a black face mask and appearing to be on the phone as he entered.

Grealish already had six points on his driving licence from a previous motorway offence and Mr Dye said that there was an “acknowledgement he is going to lose his licence”, but he argued that a disqualification of more than six months would be “disproportionate”.

Grealish’s Range Rover was seen hitting two other vehicles

The driver of the Range Rover soon emerged from the vehicle and offered journalists and photographers outside the court a box of chocolates, adding: “How long have you lads been waiting here?”

Grealish was also in the headlines for the wrong reasons last week after joining Villa teammate Ross Barkley at a London restaurant to celebrate the latter’s 27th birthday, despite coronavirus restrictions preventing people from different households from mixing indoors in tier 2 areas. Villa elected not to take any disciplinary action against the pair given that they are allowed to eat together at the club’s training base, although manager Dean Smith did remind the pair of their responsibilities.