Two Derby County footballers have been sentenced today after a crash on the A6 in Derbyshire.
Mason Benett, 23, of Chapel Street, Whaley Thorns near Mansfield, and Tom Lawrence, 25, of Auckland Place, Duffield were both arrested at the scene of the crash at the junction of Burley Lane and the A6 at Allestree on September 24.
They were charged with drink-driving the day after the crash, which involved a Range Rover Sport and Mercedes GLC.
Both appeared at Southern Derby Magistrates' Court today (Tuesday) and admitted driving a vehicle with excess alcohol and failing to stop for an accident.
The court heard the pair had been on a night out at the Joiners Arms pub in Quarndon on the night of the crash.
They left the pub at 11.30pm and headed in the general direction of Burley Hill but Lawrence's vehicle then collided with the rear of Bennett's vehicle, prosecutor Marianne Connally said.
The Range Rover was seriously damaged after crashing into a lamppost.
Both men initially left the scene of the collision, but returned 45 minutes later by which time police had arrived, the court heard.
Bennett gave a reading of 64 microgrammes per 100 millimetres of breath and Lawrence a reading of 58.
The legal limit is 35.
Both players were driving their own vehicles, with Lawrence carrying two passengers, one of whom was treated at the roadside for a facial injury.
Lucy Whitaker, representing Bennett, said he was a caring and responsible father to his four-year-old daughter and he regrets his actions.
She added: "He accepts he had some alcohol and consumes a Jager Bomb that was bought for him which made him sick.
“It wasn’t bought by him, but from a teammate. He didn’t want it but felt peer pressured to have it.”
Ms Whitaker said he had planned to get a taxi with a team mate but then "made the poor decision to get in his vehicle and drive home. He lives three miles away.”
He stopped at the junction at Burley Hill and a car went into the back of him, the court heard. He didn't know who it was at this point and was shocked so 'panicked' and drove away with another team mate, before getting a call from Lawrence asking to pick him up from a garage. Bennett then returned to the scene.
Ms Whitaker said: “He fully co-operated and was not placed in handcuffs.”
Shaun Draycott, representing Lawrence, said: "He is a decent young man, his behaviour was out of character.
“He made a gross, gross error of judgement a matter he extremely regrets.”
Lawrence's mum died in May this year and she was “central to his sporting excellence”, the court heard.
The 25-year old uses alcohol for confidence issues and is “quite dependent” upon it, it was said.
Former Derby County manager Frank Lampard and current Wales boss Ryan Giggs gave character references for him.
Both were disqualified from driving for two years and given a 12-month community order with 180 hours unpaid work. They must also pay costs of £85 and a £90 victim surcharge.
Sentencing them, district judge Jonathan Taaffe said: "You may struggle to accept this but you are extremely fortunate to be here today.
"You have been drinking, you have been involved in a road traffic collision that could have led to a death and did lead to the injury of a passenger in one of the vehicles.
"As I say often in this court when you are in control of a motor vehicle you are in control of a lethal weapon.
"And the fact that you were not injured is perhaps remarkable.
"Your club have stood by you in the circumstances when many employers would have dismissed you for immediately for gross misconduct.
"You are both intelligent and talented young men. You have brought shame on yourselves, your families, your profession and your club."
* A version of this story first appeared on Derbyshire Live.