Claridge spared jail for dangerous driving

Former striker Steve Claridge was given a six-month jail sentence suspended for two years today for dangerous driving.

Claridge was also disqualified from driving for 12 months and ordered to do 150 hours unpaid community work when he appeared at Birmingham Crown Court.

The 42-year-old was found guilty of the offence last month after jurors heard that he drove at speeds of around 100mph in treacherous conditions.

The soccer pundit, from, Hampshire in the UK, was pulled over by an unmarked police car on the southbound carriageway of the M40 between junctions four and three on December 30, 2006, after repeatedly undertaking other vehicles.

During his trial, Claridge said he was trying to leave the motorway to find a toilet.

Claridge said he was driving at “slightly in excess of 70mph” and denied that it was raining at the time.

He told the court: “It certainly wasn’t dangerous. It wasn’t the best bit of driving I have ever done but it wasn’t dangerous.”

But Nigel Wilkins, prosecuting, said Claridge drove at high speed on wet roads, repeatedly switching lanes and causing other drivers to “brake sharply in order to let him in”.

It was, he said, a “consistent piece of dangerous driving”.

Jurors heard from police officers that Claridge, driving a silver Peugeot 307, was “jumping up and down” on the hard shoulder when he was pulled over.

Pc Keith Dyson said: “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.”

Following the verdict, the court heard that Claridge already has nine points on his driving licence.

Claridge played clubs including Leicester, Birmingham and Portsmouth during a journeyman professional career.

He was driving home from Blackpool after compiling a scouting report when he was pulled over, he told the court.

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