CRICKETER James Faulkner has been banned from getting behind the wheel for two years and fined £10,000 after he admitted drink-driving.
The 25-year-old Australian, who is currently playing for Lancashire, was nearly three times over the legal limit when his Toyota car hit the back of a BMW 3 Series vehicle in West Didsbury, Manchester.
Faulkner had been out at a local restaurant with a friend on July 2 but chose to drive when he did not wish to walk a mile home in heavy rain, Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard.
Sentencing, District Judge Mark Hadfield told him: “I am sure you accept it was foolhardy in the extreme to get behind the wheel of your vehicle having been out for a meal with your friend.”
The judge said he reached the fine figure after he ruled out an unpaid work community order or a curfew because it was “unworkable” in the defendant’s circumstances.
All-rounder Faulkner, who was named man of the match in this year’s cricket World Cup final, is set to leave the UK later this month as his contract with Lancashire expires on August 21 - although the court heard that may be extended to mid-September.
The court heard that police were called to the scene of a “minor” road traffic collision in Barlow Moor Road at the junction of Elizabeth Slinger Road.
Faulkner identified himself as the driver and was said to have “smelt strongly” of intoxicants.
He was arrested after providing a positive roadside breath test reading and was taken to Longsight police station where he gave a reading of 100mg per 100ml of breath - the legal limit being 35mg.
Ian Unsworth QC, representing the cricketer, said: “Mr Faulkner feels deep shame and remorse about his actions on that night.
“It occurred a very short distance from the restaurant (Albert’s Restaurant) that Mr Faulkner had attended with a friend from Tasmania.
“His friend had been in the country. He himself had cause to celebrate, he had got engaged the week earlier and Mr Faulkner took his friend out.”
The lawyer said that Faulkner had already received a four-match ban from Cricket Australia which effectively ruled him out of the one-day and Twenty20 series against England following the Ashes series.
He was handed a two-week fine, with Cricket Australia also requiring him to undertake an alcohol rehabilitation programme.
Six character references were handed to the judge which spoke of Faulkner “in glowing terms”, including one from Lancashire’s director of cricket, Ashley Giles, who was present in court.
Mr Unsworth said Mr Giles was prepared to read out his witness statement to the court because Lancashire was “a responsible organisation and they felt it appropriate”.
The county suggested to the court a number of community-based events that Faulkner could contribute to if an unpaid work order was made.
Mr Unsworth added his client had “brought shame” upon himself and he was particularly “deeply ashamed” about how his actions may have affected his father Peter, a former cricketer himself, and his “hard-working, decent family”.
He submitted though that a community-based penalty could be “avoided” because of Faulkner’s work commitments.
Mr Unsworth concluded: “He is deeply sorry for what has happened.
“If anything comes out of this case it is clear this was completely out of character and it will not happen again.”
Faulkner was also ordered to pay court costs totalling £355.
Outside court, Faulkner’s manager, ex-cricketer Phil Weston, read out a statement on his behalf.
He said: “My decision to drive that day was wholly my own and clearly it was an error in my judgement.
“I apologise unreservedly for my behaviour but I accept this does not and should not excuse my actions.
“I am deeply embarrassed and sorry.
“I want to reiterate my regret for my actions which I know is not fitting of any member of society and particularly a professional sportsman and public figure such as myself.
“Moving forward I will ensure this remains an isolated bad decision on my part and I am committed to gain any respect back I may have lost as a result.”