Former Sunderland footballer Darron Gibson spared jail over drink-drive crash

Ex-Sunderland footballer Darron Gibson was today spared jail after he admitted a second drink-drive charge in less than three years.

The 30-year-old was three times over the limit when he smashed his Mercedes 4x4 into parked cars on St Patrick's Day, South Tyneside Magistrates' Court was told.

Darron Gibson.

Darron Gibson.

The incident in Sunderland followed a serious collision in 2015 when his car hit three cyclists who were fixing a wheel on the pavement.

Gibson, who has played for Manchester United, Everton and Sunderland, knocked a taxi's wing mirror off in West Boldon in the latest incident.

But he carried on and smashed into parked cars in Dovedale Road, Fulwell, Sunderland, as he drove to the club's training ground.

His grey 4x4 ended up on the pavement, and the road was strewn with debris.

Gibson's car after the crash.

Gibson's car after the crash.

Sunderland terminated his contract after he was charged following the March 17 crash.

Gibson, from Hale, Cheshire, was handed an interim disqualification and granted unconditional bail ahead of sentence.

But District Judge Roger Elsey did not jail him after hearing the player, who has not yet found another club, had a number of psychological issues at the time, for which he is now receiving treatment.

When he reappeared at court for sentence today, Gibson was banned from driving for 40 months, and given a two-year community sentence with 250 hours of unpaid work.

He was also ordered to do 30 days of rehabilitation activity, pay £800 compensation to the taxi driver whose car he hit, plus £85 court costs and an £85 victim surcharge.

Judge Elsey said: "Any offence of drink-driving is serious, but in my judgement the circumstances in this case are particularly serious.

"You were clearly not in control of your vehicle, and you put pedestrians and other drivers at risk of injury or worse."

Henry Blackshaw, defending, said Gibson had taken sleeping tablets and drank from a litre bottle of vodka the night before the crash.

He denied being an alcoholic, but said he was a binge drinker who was taking steps to overcome the problem.

Losing his Sunderland contract had cost Gibson hundreds of thousands of pounds in lost bonuses, the court heard.