Page last updated at 11:59 GMT, Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Wales star Andy Powell admits 'golf buggy' charge

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Powell admitted he had been an "idiot" for taking one of the golf buggies, which have a speed of around 10mph

Wales rugby star Andy Powell has been banned from driving for 15 months after admitting driving a golf buggy while unfit through drink.

Powell was arrested at services at junction 33 of the M4 near the team hotel in the Vale of Glamorgan.

He was taken into custody with another man hours after a Six Nations match.

Powell pleaded guilty before Cardiff magistrates and as well as the ban, was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay £85 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

Powell's lawyer Conrad Gadd told the court Powell, from Brecon, already admitted he had been "foolish".

Mr Gadd said: "He is regretful that any young boy who may see him as a hero might think this behaviour is acceptable and he wants to make it plain that it isn't."

I am mindful of those whom I have let down by my actions and I again offer a full public apology
Andy Powell

The 28-year-old was arrested with another man in the early hours of 14 February, the day after he had played in Wales' dramatic Six Nations win over Scotland.

The buggy had been taken from the Vale Hotel, Golf and Spa Resort, where team members stayed before and after the match.

The other man was released without charge.

Mr Gadd said the win over Scotland had been a great day for Wales with the team snatching victory in the final minutes.

"Beer is a staple of any rugby side and here there was more than a few pints of beer. Mr Powell was out until the early hours of the morning," he said.

"By 5.30am he and one colleague were hungry. There was no intention to drive but they got in the golf buggy and Powell drove it about a mile-and-a-half to the services.

Andy Powell arrives at court
Andy Powell was arrested at a motorway service station

"He stayed on the hard shoulder. The buggy was capable of doing about 20mph but it was nowhere near that speed. Someone saw them and reported it to police.

"As soon as the police arrived, he realised he had made a mistake and without hesitation he accepted blame."

Mr Gadd added: "It is a tremendous blow to somebody who is proud to play for Wales."

Powell said after the case that he fully accepted the decision and sentence of the court.

"In doing so I am mindful of those whom I have let down by my actions and I again offer a full public apology, especially to my fans who have been so supportive, my family, who have stood by me, and the senior officers, management and coaching staff of both the WRU and Cardiff Blues," he said.

"I would also like to thank the police officers involved in the incident and the management of the Vale Hotel, Golf and Spa Resort for the sympathetic way that they dealt with the situation.

"I now intend to put this matter behind me and to get on with my rugby career and the remainder of the Cardiff Blues season.

'Foolhardy driving'

"I still have aspirations to play for my country which means so much to me.

"I realise that many young sportsmen and women look up to international rugby players and that some of them may be amused by my antics with a golf buggy.

"However, they should note my regret and be aware that I do not excuse or condone drink-driving in any form."

The Welsh Rugby Union suspended Powell after the incident, saying his behaviour was "contrary to the squad's code of conduct".

Mr Gadd said: "He doesn't know if he will be readmitted. He is in limbo. This isn't bad driving here - it is foolhardy driving."

Brecon-born Powell has won 14 caps for Wales and toured with the British and Irish Lions squad to South Africa.

The forward plays regional rugby for Cardiff Blues, after joining from the Llanelli Scarlets in 2005.

He has also played for Beziers, Leicester and Newport.



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