Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish was today banned from driving for nine months and fined £82,499 for two careless driving offences, including reversing ‘at speed’ into parked cars in his £80,000 Range Rover following lockdown party.
The England and Aston Villa ace stank of alcohol and was slurring his words after he smashed his 4×4 into two vehicles and a wall on March 29, according to a witness.
Magistrates heard the 25-year-old was unsteady on his feet and wearing odd slippers when he stumbled from the wreckage in Dickens Heath, Solihull, West Midlands.
The £130,000-a-week midfielder breached coronavirus lockdown rules less than 24 hours after he urged fans to ‘Stay Home. Protect the NHS. Save Lives.’
Grealish, who the judge was told takes home £55,000 a week, had also admitted a second charge of careless driving relating to allegations he drove without due care and attention on the M42 reaching speeds of up to 98mph.
In dashcam footage filmed in October, an officer could be heard saying ‘he’s at 80’ as Grealish travelled north along the M42 towards the Aston Villa training ground.
The footage ended before Grealish came to a halt near the venue, seconds after the police vehicle’s sirens were activated.
The England and Aston Villa ace (seen arriving at court today) stank of alcohol and was slurring his words after he ploughed his 4×4 into two vehicles and a wall on March 29, according to a witness
Grealish kept his head bowed and appeared tearful as he was sentenced by District Judge John Bristow.
The judge told the winger: ‘The offence on March 29 was committed six days after the national coronavirus lockdown was announced.
‘You should have been at home, you do not assert you had any proper reason not to be.
‘You should not have been driving on March 29 – this is a further aggravating feature.’
He added: ‘The two offences were committed within seven months of each other, you have caused damage by your driving and you have driven in an intimidating way at excessive speeds on a motorway.’
CCTV showed Grealish reversing at speed into a parked Citroen van, before mounting a kerb, hitting a £30,000 Mercedes and then smashing into a nearby wall.
Largest driving fines handed to footballers in the UK
£54,000 (2016): Yaya Toure, Manchester City, for drink driving in 2016.
£20,000 (2017): Roberto Firmino, Liverpool, for several offences, including being over the drink-drive limit.
£8,250 (2007): Dietmar Hamann, Man City, after crashing his Porsche Carrera into a fence while speeding.
£1,540 (2013): Carlos Tevez, Man City, after driving while disqualified and without insurance.
£1,300 (2012): Peter Crouch, Stoke City, after being caught speeding twice.
*Southampton’s Mario Lemina was fined £96,425 in 2018 – the biggest ever fine given for a driving offence in the UK. But this was reduced to £2000 due to a court error.
He then left the scene, leaving behind the damaged vehicles before police arrived and he was later charged with a string of motoring offences.
Grealish, of Barnt Green, Worcs., failed to appear before JPs last month because he was training with Villa but admitted driving without due care and attention.
The court heard he was expected to be banned from the roads as he already had six points on his licence from an earlier speeding offence.
Just over a week later, Grealish was caught breaching coronavirus rules again by visiting a London restaurant to celebrate teammate Ross Barkley’s birthday.
Today he was flanked by a security guard as he arrived at Birmingham Magistrates Court wearing a black suit, cream overcoat and black face mask.
He arrived on foot after his Range Rover pulled up outside court without him inside in an attempt to distract waiting photographers and camera crews.
The driver then got out to offer the assembled media a box of Cadbury Milk tray chocolates after Grealish made his way through the main entrance.
Grealish was allowed to sit on the court benches instead of the traditional dock for defendants as the case was outlined against him.
He was asked to confirm his name, date of birth and address as well as his guilty pleas to two counts of careless driving.
Grealish was banned from driving for nine months, was fined £82,499 and ordered to pay costs totalling £82,900.
The Villa captain previously apologised for ‘stupidly’ agreeing to visit a friend’s flat after urging fans to stay indoors for the virus lockdown.
Pictures emerged at the time showing a dazed-looking Grealish at the crash scene dressed in one black slipper and a white slip-on sandal.
A security guard who confronted the midfielder following the crash on the cul-de-sac described him as smelling of ‘intoxicating’ liquour.
Photographs circulated of Grealish, wearing odd footwear, after the crash in March
A video grab showing Grealish’s damaged Range Rover after he crashed it after a lockdown party
The court heard how police attended the scene and identified all the vehicles involved.
They were unable to find the offender and officers attended the insurance address and were met by family members who explained Grealish was not currently home.
Grealish was then given notice by police on March 30, and he confirmed that he was the driver at the time.
The court Grealish was also caught doing almost 100mph on the M42 and speeding on Bodymoor Heath Road, where Villa’s training ground is based.
The prosecutor added: ‘The second matter of due care and attention occurs on October 18, 2020.
‘Police were on duty on the M42 travelling on junction six to seven in an un-marked motorway patrol vehicle.
‘At 2.40pm attention was drawn to a black Range Rover who overtook in lane three travelling in excess of the speed limit.
‘It was apparent the driver intended on travelling in excess of the speed limit close to an intimidating distance behind other road users to get them to move out of the way causing a danger to everyone involved.
‘Speed was in excess of 90mph in a 70mph limit with speeds of 98mph at points. The Range Rovers average speed was 90mph.’
Villa fined Grealish £150,000 for breaching Government guidelines and donated the money to The University Hospitals Charity in Birmingham.
Grealish, 25, admitted one offence in connection with a collision in Dickens Heath, near Solihull, on March 29, six days after national restrictions were imposed nationwide
Another grab showing damage to Grealish’s car after he crashed it. The winger did not appear in court but entered pleas through his lawyer
In a video message to fans following the incident, Grealish said: ‘Hi, everybody just want to do a quick video message just to say how deeply embarrassed I am by what has happened this weekend.
‘I know it is a tough time for everyone at the moment, being locked indoors for so long, and I obviously got a call off a friend asking to go round to his and I stupidly agreed to do so.
‘I don’t want anyone to make the same mistake as I did so I obviously urge everyone to stay at home and follow the rules and the guidelines of what we’ve been asked to do.
‘I know for a fact that I will be doing that in the near future now and like I said I urge everyone to do the same.
‘I hope everyone can accept my apology and we can move on from this and hopefully in the near future we can all be out enjoying ourselves again once this has all boiled over.’
At the time of his fine, Villa said in a statement: ‘Aston Villa is deeply disappointed that one of our players ignored the Government’s guidance on staying at home during the Coronavirus crisis.
‘Club Captain Jack Grealish has accepted that his decision to leave his house was wrong and entirely unnecessary.
‘It breached the government guidelines which are clear and should be adhered to by everybody.
‘The player will be disciplined and fined with the proceeds donated to The University Hospitals Charity in Birmingham.’
Last Wednesday, Grealish avoided punishment after breaking restrictions at the weekend.
Grealish was spotted dining with fellow player Ross Barkley in a London restaurant to celebrate Barkley’s 27th birthday.
Although Grealish and Barkley, who both live in tier 2 areas around Birmingham, did not break any rules by travelling to London, the current guidelines forbid meeting people from different households indoors.