Former England footballer Rio Ferdinand has been banned from driving for six months after he admitted speeding.
The ex-Manchester United star, who is now a football pundit, was caught doing more than 70mph in a Mercedes on the A27 at Hangleton in Hove, East Sussex.
His ban comes despite his claim in court that the cancer deaths of his wife Rebecca in 2015 and mother Janice St Fort in 2017 meant his children needed him to drive them personally.
Crawley Magistrates’ Court was told the 41-year-old, who lives in Orpington, south-east London, hit a speed of 85mph on the dual carriageway last July.
He was ordered to pay a total of £822 in fines and costs.
In 2012, Ferdinand was caught speeding three times in five weeks on the same stretch of road in Manchester.
The offence, which carried three penalty points, was added to the nine Ferdinand already had and triggered an automatic disqualification.
He accrued nine points in three offences in 2017, 2018 and two months before his latest ticket in May 2019.
Ferdinand was previously banned from driving for six months in 2012 after he was caught speeding three times on the same stretch of road in five-week period.
He was also convicted of speeding in 2005, 2003 and 2002 and drink-driving in 1997. Ferdinand’s last two speeding convictions followed a Speed Awareness Course for another similar offence.
Ferdinand told the court today he could not allow his children to travel with a chauffeur and claimed that the trauma of losing their mother and grandmother, as well as the coronavirus crisis, meant he needed his driving licence.
He argued at Crawley Magistrates Court a ban would amount to ‘exceptional hardship’ because of needing to drive his three children to school, plus other activities.
Ferdinand’s ban comes despite his claim in court that the cancer deaths of his wife Rebecca in 2015 and mother Janice St Fort in 2017 meant his children needed him to drive them personally
Ferdinand, of Orpington, south east London, told the court that coronavirus meant he was unwilling for his children to travel to school by bus.
He also claimed that his children are still facing trauma following the death of their mother and grandmother in close succession.
His lawyer, Udo Onwere, himself a former professional player, said: ‘I do understand the points that have been raised by the prosecutor, that it is possible to have other arrangements.
But this is part of their reluctance to travel with anyone else because of the double trauma they have suffered over the last few years.’
He added: ‘The last three to four years have been an extremely difficult period in my client’s life. There have been family bereavements meaning my client has become a single parent for his children. He has entered into a new relationship with his wife who is currently pregnant.’
The lawyer then told how the death of Ferdinand’s mother had meant the former footballer’s children had become more reliant on him for transport.
He added: ‘Rio lost his mother two years ago, she was the primary carer for his children. He has three children travelling to events and school. He is very protective over his children, who as you can understand will have a massive trauma.
‘The effect of a ban would be hugely detrimental to the family set up due to the fact that the family will rely on Mr Ferdinand to take them to and from events.’
He added: ‘Being able to drive them around has seen a massive improvement in his eldest son who is beginning to come out of the trauma.’
He claimed it was ‘very difficult’ for his current wife Kate, who is pregnant, to drive with three children
The lawyer closed by asking the magistrate for leniency in his decision.
A prosecutor asked Ferdinand whether he would be willing to employ a chauffeur to transport his children.
He told the court that he was not willing to do this amid the coronavirus outbreak, adding that his ‘profile’ meant he would not even consider it in non-pandemic times.
The BT Sport television pundit attended court today dressed in black and wearing a face mask.
Prosecution lawyer Sharon Allen quizzed Ferdinand directly, asking: ‘Does your wife drive?’
Ferdinand responded: ‘Yes, but it is very difficult with three children. The times are very different when they have to be there, one will be going one hour before the other.
He added: ‘Normally we would have a school bus, but now that is difficult because of COVID.’
Ms Allen added: ‘So your children don’t come into contact with anybody?’
Ferdinand replied: ‘Not in a car.’
The lawyer then asked the millionaire footballer whether he would consider paying for a chauffeur or a taxi.
Ferdinand said: ‘I wouldn’t let my kids get into a taxi. In normal situations I wouldn’t allow it because my profile doesn’t allow it.’
His lawyer also cited transport issues brought on by COVID.
He said: ‘Covid makes it difficult for someone else to transport them and to use public transport.
‘Rio does understand that speeding should not be looked on kindly, which is why he entered a prompt guilty plea. He asks the court to offer some leniency because of his situation.
Magistrate Geoffrey Allen returned around 10 minutes later and banned Ferdinand for six months.
He said: ‘We have listened carefully about your hardship.
‘You told us that your wife drives and Covid has affected the way you deal with your children, but Covid has affected everyone in the whole world in the same way.
‘This does not meet the hardship, therefore you will be disqualified from today until February 17, 2021. You must surrender your license to the DVLA and before that date you must reapply for that license.’
Ferdinand was also fined £670, with £85 costs and ordered to pay a £67 victim surcharge.