TV star Ant ‘truly sorry’ over drink-drive shame

Western Mail - - UK&WORLD NEWS - HENRY VAUGHAN and AINE FOX news­desk@waleson­line.co.uk

TV PRE­SEN­TER Ant McPartlin has said he is “truly sorry” af­ter his drink-driv­ing crash let down his fam­ily, friends and fans.

The £130,000-a-week star was banned from the road for 20 months and fined £86,000 af­ter plead­ing guilty to driv­ing while more than twice the le­gal limit.

McPartlin, 42, told po­lice he was “ashamed and mor­ti­fied” af­ter crash­ing his car while drink-driv­ing with his mother in the pas­sen­ger seat.

Wim­ble­don Mag­is­trates’ Court heard that McPartlin had been seek­ing help for “al­co­hol and emo­tional is­sues” at the time of the crash in Rich­mond, west Lon­don, on March 18, hav­ing re­cently split from his part­ner of 11 years.

Sen­tenc­ing McPartlin yes­ter­day, District Judge Bar­bara Barnes told him his be­hav­iour had left fans dis­ap­pointed and stripped him of his for­mer “ex­em­plary” char­ac­ter.

His £86,000 fine eclipses the £54,000 im­posed on foot­baller Yaya Toure for the same of­fence in 2016, re­ported at the time to be the big­gest sanc­tion of its kind in the UK.

Speak­ing on the court steps fol­low­ing sen­tenc­ing McPartlin said: “I just want to say I’m truly sorry for what hap­pened. High stan­dards are ex­pected of me, I ex­pect them of my­self. I’ve let my­self down, I let a lot of peo­ple down. And for that I am truly sorry. I’d like apol­o­gise to ev­ery­body in­volved in the crash and I’m just thank­ful no-one was se­ri­ously hurt.”

Mo­ments ear­lier a loud bang was heard as two cars pass­ing along the road, near a large crowd of pho­tog­ra­phers gath­ered on the pave­ment, ap­peared to col­lide.

McPartlin pleaded guilty to driv­ing with 75 mi­cro­grammes of al­co­hol in 100 millil­itres of breath. The le­gal limit is 35 mi­cro­grammes.

Pros­e­cu­tor Katie Sin­nett-Jones said his black Mini hit two other cars af­ter los­ing con­trol as he drove around a sharp bend at “con­sid­er­able speed”.

He col­lided with an­other Mini Cooper be­fore driv­ing “straight into the front of an on­com­ing car” – a BMW with a doc­tor and her nineyear-old son on board.

The driver of the other Mini said in a state­ment: “My­self and my fam­ily were in deep shock as we be­lieved we could have died as a re­sult of Mr McPartlin’s reck­less driv­ing.”

The driver of the BMW – named only as Dr Ng – said she im­me­di­ately looked over at her son fol­low­ing the crash to make sure he was OK and he said: “I’m dy­ing mummy, I’m dy­ing.”

“I saw he was phys­i­cally fine with no ma­jor in­juries, but in shock,” the state­ment said. “He de­scribed how the car was com­ing around the cor­ner ‘like a rocket’.”

She told how the airbags of McPartlin’s Mini had de­ployed and said she feared for the life of the driver in­side.

“I’m hor­ri­fied at how some­one can drive so dangerously. I gen­uinely thought the driver of the black Mini had died as there was no move­ment and it was a re­ally force­ful crash,” she added.

Wear­ing a black three-piece suit, white shirt and black tie, McPartlin lis­tened in­tently and nod­ded in the dock as the case against him was out­lined.

His bar­ris­ter Liam Walker said his client had been seek­ing treat­ment for “al­co­hol and emo­tional is­sues” at the time of the crash, adding that his mother was in the car with him.

He told the district judge the in­ci­dent was down to “a brief re­lapse un­be­knownst to his pas­sen­ger”.

The court heard that in a state­ment to po­lice days af­ter the crash, McPartlin said: “I am very sorry I did this. I am ashamed and mor­ti­fied that this hap­pened.”

> Ant McPartlin leaves Wim­ble­don Mag­is­trates Court yes­ter­day

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