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Thursday, 2 August, 2001, 20:16 GMT 21:16 UK
Drive ban for Rangers star
Russell Latapy in action against Aberdeen
Russell Latapy in action for Rangers against Aberdeen
Rangers footballer Russell Latapy was more than three times the drink drive limit when his car was stopped during a night out with Manchester United star Dwight Yorke, a court heard.

The Trinidad and Tobago international was seen driving on the wrong side of the road on 11 May in Edinburgh.

Latapy admitted the charge when he appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Thursday - the day after helping his new club to victory against NK Maribor in a Champions League qualifier.

The player, who also celebrated his 33rd birthday on Thursday, was fined 600 and banned from driving for 16 months.

Russell Latapy in training
Latapy was driving on the wrong side of the road
Sheriff Douglas Allan told him: "You have admitted a high reading of alcohol in your system while driving but I acknowledge it is a first offence and that you pled guilty at the earliest opportunity."

Latapy had been on a night out with Yorke, who is also a Trinidad and Tobago international, in May.

Procurator fiscal Margaret Graham said police saw his car being driven on the wrong side of a road in the Stockbridge area.

"The officers spoke with the driver and noted that his words were somewhat slurred and it appeared he had some difficulty in relating to what the officers were saying," she said.

Latapy's case called in court last week, but lawyer George More said his client had not been able to plead guilty at that stage because he was playing for Rangers overseas.

'Unwanted attention'

He said Latapy had been with "a famous footballer" who had travelled to Scotland to see him.

His client had not planned to drive that night, but he said that the press had become involved after Latapy was recognised by members of the public.

"He foolishly drove to get away from unwanted attention. It's something he regrets now," said Mr More.

Mr More said his client would find it difficult to cope with losing his licence.

Dwight Yorke
Dwight Yorke plays for Manchester United
"He's a high-profile footballer playing for Rangers, it is not possible to walk about or go by public transport," he said.

"A car gives him anonymity in going about his business.

"Sometimes the attention of the public is quite unpleasant and that's the sort of thing he has to avoid and has been able to do that by having a car to drive."

Latapy, who was a Hibernian player at the time of the offence, was fined two weeks' wages by the club and dropped from its Scottish Cup Final team.

Mr More said Latapy had no previous driving convictions.

And he stressed that his client did not have a drink problem.

'Fair disposal'

"The irony is that Mr Latapy is not, despite some unpleasant press reports, a regular drinker," he said.

"He is very concerned about his fitness as a professional footballer.

"He only drinks wine with a meal, or occasionally when he's out with the boys he has a few drinks."

Latapy left court without commenting, but Mr More said: "It's a fair disposal and he's pleased about it."

See also:

28 Jul 01 | Scot Prem
Three and easy for Rangers
06 Jul 01 | Man Utd
Yorke vows to clean up
03 Jul 01 | Rangers
Latapy signs at Rangers
29 Jun 01 | World Cup 2002
Yorke and Latapy quit
18 Jun 01 | Hibernian
McLeish denies Latapy claims
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