19 Sep Rooney apology
Everton striker Wayne Rooney has apologised for his “unforgivable lack of judgement” after pleading guilty to a drink-driving charge.
Rooney was banned from driving for two years and ordered to perform 100 hours of unpaid work as part of a 12-month community order.
The former England captain was on a night out in Wilmslow, Cheshire on September 1 when he was stopped by police driving a woman’s black Volkswagen Beetle at 2am.
Rooney, 31, was later arrested and bailed and on Monday he entered his guilty plea at Stockport Magistrates’ Court.
Rooney said in a statement released to Press Association Sport: “Following today’s court hearing I want publicly to apologise for my unforgivable lack of judgement 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.”
He has been married since 2008 to his high-school sweetheart Coleen, who was on holiday with the couple’s three children at the time of the incident. Mrs Rooney recently announced she is pregnant with their fourth child.
Rooney’s legal team 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 also told to pay £85 prosecution costs and a victim surcharge for the same amount. The court heard Rooney was almost three times the legal limit. A breathalyser test showed his alcohol level was 104 microgrammes in 100 millilitres of breath.
The drink-drive limit in England and Wales is 35 microgrammes per 100 millilitres of breath.
After the hearing Rooney left court with his lawyers, followed by a media scrum of TV cameras, press photographers and reporters. Shortly after the court hearing Rooney also tweeted his statement of apology to his 16.3 million followers.
Michael Rainford, defending, said his client accepted the facts of the prosecution case in full.
He said: “Upon stopping and speaking to the police officer he was fully co-operative and compliant both at the roadside and also at the police station later on, to the extent that the officers who dealt with Mr Rooney said he was the perfect gentleman.
“He realises he has not only let himself down very badly but his family. He has a wife and three young children. Of course he has let down the fans, the young people who look up to him.”
The court heard that Rooney had written a letter to the judge and that a “bundle” of character references had been submitted.
Mr Rainford said: “He works with Alder Hey (hospital), Claire House (children’s hospice), the NSPCC, his own foundation, the Manchester United Foundation and Everton In The Community.
“He is not somebody who pays lip service to the charities as so many often do. This is somebody who is actually hands on with the work he carries out.
Rooney’s apology had a mixed response on Twitter. Some replied with praise, saying that it takes a man to apologise, others rejected his words and many more gave him sarcastic offers of a lift to work on Tuesday morning.