Football fan caught drink-driving in boss's van after match in Sunderland

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A serial roads’ offender scored an own goal when he boozed at a football match in Sunderland and got behind the wheel after the final whistle.

Ryan Spark, 31, proved himself none too bright when he drove his Peugeot Partner van erratically near patrolling police on the city’s Wessington Way.

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Spark, of Albert Street, Chester-le-Street, blew over twice the drink drive limit when breath tested, magistrates in South Tyneside heard.

He pleaded guilty to a charge of driving with excess alcohol on Friday, January 19 – his second such crime since 2018.

Magistrates adjourned the case, but Spark was told to expect a minimum three-year disqualification when sentenced at the same court on Tuesday, February 20.

Prosecutor Paul Anderson said: “He came to the attention of the police at about 10pm. He is described as somewhat in excess of the speed limit.

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“He was pulled over and was asked by the police if he had been drinking and he said that he had.

“Ordinarily, you’d be looking at a ban of between 17 and 23 months but you’ll notice a previous offence in 2018. That means it’s a disqualification of at least three years.”

Spark, who was handed an interim driving ban, gave a breath test reading for alcohol of 72mcg. The legal limit is 35mcg.

He also admitted charges of driving without a licence and driving without insurance on the same day.

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The court heard he was given bans of six months and 12 months in 2022 for two offences of failing to identify a driver to police when requested.

And he owes £2,300 to the courts in previous fines and costs, which bailiffs are now involved in recovering.

Heather Bolton, defending, said a ban would cost Spark his job as a courier, adding: “He had been to the football and had a drink before the match.

“He had waited for some time afterwards before he drove and didn’t think he was over the limit.

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“The van was his boss’s and he believed it was on the fleet insurance. He does fall to be disqualified for excess alcohol.

“He was working as a courier driver, and he needs his licence. This foolish mistake has cost him his job.

“He is aware that he is facing a mandatory minimum disqualification of three years.

“He clearly needs a little more education about driving while over the limit.”

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