Wayne Rooney, the former England captain, has apologised for an “unforgivable lack of judgment” after pleading guilty to drink-driving.
The Everton striker was given a two-year driving ban and ordered to carry out unpaid community work after being caught three times the legal alcohol limit on a night out while his pregnant wife and their three sons were on holiday.
After admitting the charge on Monday morning, Rooney was also told to pay £170 – made up of prosecution costs and a victim surcharge. It is a figure he can earn by working just 12 minutes of his reported £150,000-a-week earnings.
The 31-year-old was stopped by police while driving a black Volkswagen Beetle belonging to Laura Simspon – a woman the court heard he had met while socialising with friends – in Wilmslow, Cheshire, at 2am on September 1.
Rooney was later arrested and bailed. After entering his guilty plea at Stockport Magistrates’ Court, Rooney issued a statement apologising for his “unforgivable lack of judgment”.
The court was told that a breathalyser test measured Rooney’s alcohol level to be 104 microgrammes in 100 millilitres of breath. The drink-drive limit in England and Wales is 35 microgrammes per 100 millilitres of breath.
In addition to the £170 costs, Rooney was given a two-year driving ban and ordered to perform 100 hours of unpaid work as part of a 12-month community order.
The court heard that Rooney also expects to be fined two weeks’ wages by Everton FC.
Rooney has agreed to take part in a drink-driving rehabilitation course, which could reduce his driving ban by 24 weeks, his lawyer said
‘I hope I can make some amends’: Rooney’s statement
In a statement issued after his plea, Rooney said: “Following today’s court hearing I want publicly to apologise for my unforgivable lack of judgment in driving while over the legal limit. It was completely wrong.
“I have already said sorry to my family, my manager and chairman and everyone at Everton FC. Now I want to apologise to all the fans and everyone else who has followed and supported me throughout my career.
“Of course I accept the sentence of the court and hope that I can make some amends through my community service.”
Rooney’s legal team had asked District Judge John Temperley to consider not imposing a community order because of his ongoing charitable work.
However, the judge said he was “not convinced” that imposing a large fine “would have the same effect”.
Rooney was told to pay £85 prosecution costs and a victim surcharge for the same amount.
Judge decides to order unpaid work rather than issue fine
Judge Temperley said Rooney’s remorse had been “genuine”, after the footballer wrote a personal letter to him expressing apologising for the incident.
“This is serious crime you have committed,” he said. “You were three times over the drink drive limit.
“I take on board that you are a young man with no previous convictions. I want to make it clear that I’ve read a bundle of character references which speak of you very highly.
“I’ve also read your letter to me and I accept that your remorse is genuine. Despite everything I’ve heard, I’m not convinced that a hefty fine would be as punitive a sentence as a community order.”
Mike Rainford, representing Rooney, said that Everton Football Club had also confirmed that it would be taking “its own sanctions” against him, and that he expected to be docked two weeks’ wages for the incident.
Police officer smelled alcohol on Rooney’s breath
Prosecuting Kate Gaskell told the court that Rooney had been three times over the drink drive limit when he was stopped.
She added that Rooney had been recognised by Pc Jackson, a local police officer, while driving home from a night out.
Ms Gaskell told the court how the footballer had voluntarily “pulled up on the left hand side of the road”.
After getting out of the vehicle, Pc Jackson smelled “intoxicants on his breath”, he said, and conducted a roadside breathalyser test.
Mr Rainford said that “the facts laid out by the prosecution are accepted in full by Mr Rooney”.
“Mr Rooney pulled over himself,” he said. “He did not try to evade or anything of that nature. He was fully compliant at the roadside and later on at the police station, so much so that police officers remarked that he was a perfect gentleman.
“The weather conditions were fine… and in relation to the condition of his driving there was nothing unacceptable. Mr Rooney is a young man with no previous convictions.
Mr Rainford added that Rooney had been contrite throughout the incident, and that his personal letter to Judge Temperley had shown that he was “genuinely remorseful” over what had happened.
“His contrition was show by his manner on the night… and also in the letter he has sent.” He added that Rooney recognised that his actions had not just “let himself down”, but also his family, fans, and the young people “who look up to him”.
Mr Rainford added that that the incident had generated “unbelievable media focus” and asked that Judge Temperley consider this when sentencing.
Lawyer argues Rooney already spends ‘considerable time’ helping community
He also pointed out to the court that Rooney had spent “considerable time and resources engaging in community and charity work, including for the NSPCC, his own foundation and charities partnered with Everton Football Club”.
“This is somebody who is hands-on and engages with the young people,” he added. “A lot of people don’t appreciate that… and he doesn’t shout it from the rooftops.
“But he gives his time… for those less fortunate than himself over the last 10 to 15 years.
“He is likely to be fined by his employer, Everton, which he believes will be to dock two weeks wages. They have confirmed that they will be taking their own sanctions.
“Wayne will not shirk his responsibilities. But sir I would ask you to consider what he is doing in the community, which is a lot more than most.
“He is a man of very fine qualities, it has to be said, but he knows he has to do better in the future.”
Shortly after the court hearing Rooney also tweeted his statement of apology to his 16.3 million followers.
Wearing a blue suit and with his hands in his pockets, Rooney arrived at court at about 9.30am accompanied by a small entourage.
He made no comment as was met by photographers and reporters outside. Sitting in the court galley, Rooney stood to confirm his name, age and address.
Rooney left soon after the hearing at about 11am.
Rooney was arrested by Cheshire Police after officers pulled him over on Altrincham Road and was released on bail later that day.
He had been pictured in a selfie with cricketer Jack McIver in the Bubble Room bar in Alderley Edge the evening before his arrest.
Mr McIver shared the photo on Instagram at around 10pm on August 31, with the comment: “International Break #legend.”
Rooney was given a warm welcome at Old Trafford on his return to former club Manchester United on Sunday, but it ended in disappointment with a 4-0 defeat for his boyhood club Everton, which he rejoined during the summer break.
He has been married to his high-school sweetheart Coleen since 2008 and they have three children together.
Mrs Rooney recently announced she is pregnant with their fourth child.