Jack Grealish: England and Aston Villa star smelled of ‘intoxicating liquor’ after crash, court hears

England footballer Jack Grealish smelled of “intoxicating liquor” and was slurring his words after crashing his £80,000 Range Rover during the first coronavirus lockdown, a court has heard.

The Aston Villa captain has pleaded guilty to two charges, including one linked to the incident in March when his 4×4 hit two parked vehicles in Dickens Heath, Solihull, West Midlands.

The Premier League forward entered pleas through his lawyer, admitting driving without due care, but did not appear at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.

The 25-year-old player, of Barnt Green, Worcestershire, was involved in the incident less than 24 hours after issuing a Twitter video message urging people to stay at home to save lives and protect the NHS.

He also pleaded guilty to a separate offence of careless driving after he was spotted driving faster than 90mph along the M42 at “close to an intimidating distance” by an unmarked police patrol, on 18 October.

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Grealish is Aston Villa’s captain

Prosecutor Tinofara Nyatanga said the lockdown crash happened in a residential cul-de-sac in fine, dry conditions at 8.40am on 29 March – six days after UK-wide restrictions had been imposed.

Mrs Nyatanga gave an account from a security guard who witnessed what happened as he turned up to start his shift.

The worker, who had parked in the road, initially saw Grealish, wearing a blue hoodie with two different coloured slippers on his feet, walking past his car.

Seeing the Aston Villa player get into the Range Rover, he said the 4×4 was then “reversed at speed”, crashing into a silver Citroen van, before being “driven at speed” out of the close.

He said he then saw the 4×4 mount a kerb and pause for a minute, before it was again reversed at speed, “swerving left and right”, hitting a grey Mercedes in a “side-swipe” collision. The Range Rover was then driven into a nearby car park wall.

Getting out to speak to the driver, the security officer said he recognised the man who had been at the wheel as Grealish, “a professional footballer who he’d seen on the TV before”.

Mrs Nyatanga, recounting the guard’s opinion of Grealish, told the court: “He could smell, in his opinion, intoxicating liquor on his breath.

“His speech was slurred and he was unsteady on his feet.”

The player gave his name, address and phone number to the security guard before leaving the scene.

Two police officers investigating the incident could not locate an address where Grealish was thought to have been, later conducting a “safe and well check” at an address listed on his insurance.

Grealish apologised in a video message hours after the incident, saying he was “deeply embarrassed” and had “stupidly agreed” to go around to a friend’s house.

The court heard that during the 18 October offence, Grealish was seen driving at “close to an intimidating distance” behind other drivers on the M42, between junctions 6 and 7, at about 2.40pm, in a bid “to get them to move out of the way”.

Media outside Birmingham MagistratesÕ Court where Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish has admitted careless driving in connection with a crash during MarchÕs coronavirus lockdown.
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The footballer did not appear at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court but entered pleas through his lawyer

An unmarked police patrol clocked his car doing up to 98mph on a stretch of the motorway, with an average speed of 90mph.

As he left the M42 travelling towards the A446, Grealish crossed road hatching markings on a roundabout “cutting up another vehicle in the process”.

Officers used their sirens to pull him over near Villa’s training ground at Bodymoor Heath, where the star was “calm and compliant” and apologised for his driving.

Grealish was rated man of the match after completing the full 90 minutes in his side’s 1-0 win over Leicester City on the night of 18 October.

He had denied two other charges related to the Dickens Heath incident, of failing to stop and failing to report the incident.

No evidence was offered for the police-led prosecution, and the charges were dismissed.

Grealish already had six penalty points on his driving licence for a 2018 motorway speeding offence and could be at risk of a driving ban under the totting-up scheme, District Judge John Bristow said.

Following further submissions from Grealish’s lawyer, the judge adjourned sentencing until 15 December, when the player is set to attend.

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