Page last updated at 13:14 GMT, Tuesday, 13 May 2008 14:14 UK

Footballer guilty of M-way charge

Steve Claridge
Steve Claridge works as a football pundit on BBC Five Live

Former Premiership footballer Steve Claridge has been found guilty of dangerous driving.

Coventry Crown Court heard he undertook cars at about 100mph in "treacherous" conditions on the M42 near Solihull, West Midlands, on 30 December 2006.

Claridge, 42, who denied the charge, said he reached just above 70mph as he tried to exit the M42 to find a toilet.

The former Leicester City striker, of Fareham, Hampshire, also denied it was raining at the time of the incident.

Claridge, who works as a football pundit on BBC Five Live, also played for Portsmouth and Birmingham City as well as several other professional clubs.

'Switching lanes'

He was pulled over by an unmarked police car on the southbound carriageway between junctions 4 and 3, the jury was told.

Nigel Wilkins, prosecuting, accused Claridge of a "consistent piece of dangerous driving".

I am really disappointed and shocked
Steve Claridge

He said he drove at high speed on wet roads, repeatedly switching lanes, causing other motorists to "brake sharply in order to let him in".

The court heard that when he was pulled over, Claridge told police: "I was desperate for the toilet."

Pc Keith Dyson told the court: "As I started speaking to him, he started jumping up and down on the hard shoulder, holding his crotch and acting like a child who is desperate to go to the toilet."

He added: "He continued to jump up and down in what I deemed to be an embarrassing action."

Claridge told the court he was driving home from Blackpool after compiling a scouting report when he was pulled over in his silver Peugeot 307.

He admitted undertaking two cars but denied driving dangerously.

Speaking after the verdict, Claridge said: "I am really disappointed and shocked.

"It's going to affect my work, but I have got to accept the decision now and I have got to get on with it."

He will be sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court in the week commencing 9 June.




SEE ALSO
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12 May 08 |  West Midlands

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