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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 March, 2005, 14:50 GMT
Jail for drink-driving footballer
Jermaine Pennant outside court

Arsenal midfielder Jermaine Pennant has been jailed for three months after admitting drink-driving while banned.

The 22-year-old, from Barnet, north London, who is on loan at Birmingham City, crashed into a lamppost in Aylesbury, Bucks, on 23 January.

He admitted the drink-driving charge, driving while disqualified and having no insurance, at a hearing at Aylesbury Magistrates' Court last month.

Pennant's lawyers said they planned to appeal against the sentence.

Chairman of magistrates, John Jakobi, told Pennant there had been no reasonable excuse for the journey and a custodial sentence was justified.

'Career destroyed'

This was despite Pennant's lawyer Barry Warbutton telling the court that imprisonment "could completely destroy his career".

Police stopped the footballer outside a leisure centre at about 0600 GMT.

He claimed to have lost control of his car while changing its satellite navigation system.

The car was dragging a lamp post and when he got out, Pennant's eyes were glazed, his speech slurred and he smelled of alcohol, the court heard.

Jermaine Pennant

Tests showed his alcohol reading was 85 micrograms per 100ml of breath. The legal limit is 35 micrograms.

He gave a false name at first because he was scared, the court was told.

Pennant was banned from driving for 16 months last February after he was seen travelling in the wrong lane in Paddington, west London.

The ban was shortened after he attended a course and was due to be lifted on 19 February.

Mr Barry Warbutton said Pennant had thought he was allowed to drive after his aunt read out a letter to him from the DVLA.

Difficult childhood

He told the court he had never been in trouble during a difficult childhood in Nottingham.

Mr Warburton said he grew up on "one of the worst estates" in the city, the eldest of four children, and brought up the three others after his mother left until he was 15.

Pennant had only "intermittent" schooling, the court heard.

Birmingham City had hoped he would get a lenient sentence that would allow him to continue playing football.

A spokesman said the jail term had left the club "extremely disappointed".

He said: "We will now be speaking to Arsenal about the future of their player."



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