Bannan banned after M1 crash

The 21-year-old midfielder, from Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands,

was handed an 18-month driving ban and fined £4,500 after

admitting a string of driving offences following a crash on the M1

last month. He admitted drink-driving, failing to stop after an

accident, driving without due care and attention and driving on a

provisional licence at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court. The court

heard Bannan fled across fields after crashing his Range Rover

Sport into the central reservation on the southbound carriageway of

the M1 near Watnall, at around 5.30am on October 23 following a

night out in Leeds, West Yorkshire. The footballer was found to

have almost twice the legal limit of alcohol in his system. In a

statement released by Aston Villa after Friday’s hearing, S Bannan

said: “I am very conscious of the fact that I have let down a lot

of people by my actions, which I deeply regret. “I have let down my

family, my club, the supporters of Aston Villa, all of the people

who have helped me to get to this stage in my football career and I

have let down myself. I’m really sorry. “Obviously, I have to try

to make up for a terrible error of judgement and I intend to do so,

first by accepting the fine and punishment handed down by the court

and subsequently by my actions. “Drink-driving is a very serious

offence and there is no excuse for what I have done. “The club has

been very supportive throughout this process and I want to

concentrate now on my responsibilities to Villa and work hard to

get back in the team.” Villa manager Alex McLeish said: “As a club

and as the manager of the club, we take a very dim view of the

incident in which Barry was involved. “He has been deservedly

punished and we have also taken action internally, at the time of

the incident when he was suspended and he will now be disciplined

in line with the club’s own disciplinary procedure, which will

remain internal. “Barry has shown contrition, he’s very ashamed of

what’s happened and his attitude is very much to get on now with

his life and his career as a footballer.” Bannan, who has held a

provisional licence for three years, was found to have 61mg of

alcohol to 100ml of breath – the legal limit is 35. He had been on

a night out with friends in Leeds following Aston Villa’s 2-1 home

defeat at the hands of local rivals West Brom. When his friends

failed to return to the hotel where they were staying, Bannan

decided to get changed and drive back to Birmingham as he feared he

would miss a meeting with a youth football team coach. Bannan said

he took the decision to drive as he felt “alert, in control and

clear headed”, the court heard. Following the crash he panicked

after seeing a motorway worker on his mobile phone. Fearing he was

calling the police, Bannan fled over fields to a taxi office in

Bulwell, where was arrested. He believed himself to be “a safe and

confident driver” who practised regularly with his girlfriend, who

had a licence and was insured on his car, Adrian Darbishire,

representing the footballer, said. In mitigation, Mr Darbishire

said of Bannan: “He is a young man in the public eye. He views

these proceedings very seriously and his actions were out of

character.” The footballer was fined £2,200 for driving with

excess alcohol and a further £2,200 for the charge of failing

to stop after a road accident. He was also ordered to pay costs of

£85 and a surcharge of £15. He was told his driving ban

would be reduced by four months and two weeks on completion of a

drink-driving rehabilitation course. Magistrates said they would

impose no further penalty for the further two charges. A passenger

in the car, Shrewsbury striker James Collins, was also arrested on

suspicion of drink-driving and failing to stop at the scene of an

accident following the incident. He was subsequently released

without charge, Nottinghamshire Police confirmed.