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Rugby league star ran away from car after being spotted drink-driving

Press Association logoPress Association 11/10/2018 By Henry Clare, Press Association
Zak Hardaker now plays for Wigan Warriors (PA) © Provided by The Press Association Zak Hardaker now plays for Wigan Warriors (PA)

Rugby league player Zak Hardaker has been given a 20-month ban from driving after performing an “amateurish attempt” to evade police officers while more than two times the drink-drive limit.

A court heard how the 26-year-old Wigan Warriors player had drunk “two gins and six pints” when officers spotted him driving erratically just after midnight on September 26, prompting him to pull into a cul-de-sac along Knottingley Road, in Pontefract, West Yorkshire.

Prosecutors told how Hardaker, who had been to a pub earlier in the evening, was seen to exit his Ford Fiesta via the driver’s side and, along with a passenger, run away from the police on foot.

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Officers then attended the rugby league player’s nearby home, where he initially denied that the vehicle was his or that he had been driving it at the time of the offence.

The court was told that, upon being taken to a police station, Hardaker “came to his senses” and admitted his offences.

Prosecutors said that he gave a reading of 74 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath – the legal limit in England and Wales is 35microgrammes.

At Leeds Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, Hardaker, who appeared on court lists under the name Zak Dakin, pleaded guilty to a single charge of drink driving.

He was fined £1,810 and banned from driving for 20 months by District Judge Paul Currer, who told him: “A vehicle is a dangerous piece of equipment that can cause untold damage.”

Hardaker has not played since helping Castleford reach the Grand Final last September © Getty Images Hardaker has not played since helping Castleford reach the Grand Final last September

After hearing how Hardaker’s golf clubs were in the boot of the car, Mr Currer added: “You showed greater concern for your golf clubs than you did the safety of the public.

“You indulged in stupidity in asserting that you were not the driver and that it was not your car.”

The defendant, of Pontefract, West Yorkshire, was told that the driving ban would reduce to 15 months if he were to complete a drink-drive rehabilitation scheme by November next year.

Nick Hammond, defending, told how the sportsman “takes great pride” in his status, adding that any ban from driving could threaten his professional contract.

Suggesting that not being allowed to drive could force his client into moving home, Mr Hammond argued that a lenient sentence would be appropriate “given what I have said on his part and the fact that, potentially, this could have a devastating effect on his employment”.

Speaking about his client’s initial attempt to evade officers, Mr Hammond said: “He made what he has described as a grave error of judgment.

“He panicked. There was an amateurish attempt to avoid the attention of the police when they initially saw the vehicle.”

Leaving court, Hardaker, who wore a blue suit, did not give any comment.

The full-back will not be eligible to play for Wigan, who he signed for in May, until a 14-month ban from rugby for cocaine use expires on November 8.

He was thrown out of England’s World Cup squad in 2013 for a breach of discipline and in 2015 agreed to pay £200 in compensation and write a letter of apology to a 22-year-old man under a “community resolution” after admitting assault.

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