Drink-drive footballer Gibson is spared jail
Footballer Darron Gibson has been spared jail despite admitting a second serious drink-driving offence after a judge said the player had a number of "significant psychological issues".
The ex-Republic of Ireland midfielder has lost hundreds of thousands of pounds in bonuses after his contract with Sunderland was terminated in March, South Tyneside Magistrates' Court heard.
He smashed his Mercedes 4x4 into a taxi and five parked cars on St Patrick's Day, as he drove from his flat to a physio session at the club, finally smashing into a garden wall.
Gibson wept during the hearing, where it was said he had used sleeping tablets and drunk from a litre bottle of vodka the night before.
A roadside test recorded him having 105mg of alcohol per 100ml of breath - reduced at the police station to 95mg - when the legal limit is 35mg.
Gibson had already been banned from driving in 2015 when his car hit three cyclists while he was over the limit.
The 30-year-old, who played for Manchester United, Everton and Sunderland, knocked a taxi's wing mirror off in West Boldon in the latest incident, but carried on and smashed into parked cars in Dovedale Road, Fulwell, Sunderland.
District Judge Roger Elsey sentenced him to a two-year community order with 250 hours of unpaid work, including 30 days of rehabilitation activity.
Gibson must also pay one of the drivers £800 (€910) compensation, costs and a victim surcharge of £85 (€96) each.
He was banned from driving for 40 months.
"You have a number of significant psychological issues for which it now appears you are receiving appropriate treatment," the judge said.
Henry Blackshaw, defending, said Gibson had undergone counselling with a specialist and felt genuine remorse.