A Cumbria rugby league player has been spared jail for a number of driving offenses, after a court heard he would not be allowed to play rugby league again if he was sent to prison.
Glenn Alan James Riley, who plays for the Whitehaven Rugby League, has been given a suspended prison sentence and a four-year driving ban.
He was sentenced at Workington Magistrates’ Court today after pleading guilty to driving with alcohol level above the limit, using a vehicle without insurance, and taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent, at a hearing on March 7.
The court heard that Riley, 30, was stopped by police at 3.20am on February 21, while driving a purple Mercedes-Benz on Preston Street in Whitehaven.
He was pulled over due to the mainland of his driving as they had been swerving over the center white lines.
Police requested a specimen of breath and he gave a roadside reading of 76mcg of alcohol in 100ml of breath. The legal limit is 35mcg.
Checks on the vehicle showed he did not have insurance and was not the registered keeper.
Pamela Fee, prosecuting, said the keeper had not given him permission to take the vehicle.
In custody, Riley, of West Spur, Moor Row, gave a reading of 72mcg of alcohol in 100ml of breath.
He stated that he drank before driving. They had been at a woman’s house on Ennerdale Terrace in Whitehaven and had seen the keys on the kitchen side.
Ms Fee said: “She accepted he drank too much before driving. He said he felt ok at the time. He didn’t feel his reaction times would be impaired.”
A week later on Monday, February 28, police officers were searching for Riley in Heysham, Lancashire, after he was reported missing by his family.
Officers located him in a yellow Vauxhall Astra. He emerged from a lane onto the road in front of a police vehicle.
He then pulled onto a drive way and exited the vehicle.
The court heard that he “smelled strongly of alcohol” and there were bottles of alcohol in the footwell of the car.
Riley gave a roadside reading of 102mcg of alcohol in 100ml of breath. He was requested to give samples at the police station.
However, they refused to provide a specimen of breath in custody.
Ms Fee suggested it was a “deliberate refusal” and was “probably because of the high roadside reading”.
Riley was described in his continent as “aggressive” and “argumentative.” He made threats of violence towards police officers and said, “I’m going to kick your head in.”
Abigail Lenart, defending, said: “He is a defendant with a substantial amount of mental health issues.
“This stems from Christmas 2021. His emotional wellbeing deteriorated and alcohol was increased due to family issues.
“He was driving a short distance. Emotions were running high at the time.
“He wasn’t sure about the insurance situation. There was no damage to the vehicle and no passengers involved.”
She said Riley was given consent to take the vehicle earlier in the day when he hadn’t drank alcohol but he accepted he didn’t ask for permission when alcohol was consumed.
Ms Lenart said the only reason she was caught in Heysham was because her family alerted the police as they were so concerned about him.
“He doesn’t in any way condone his behavior,” she told the court. “A custodial sentence is likely to make his mental health deteriorate further.
“This is somebody who has been through a horrendous time.
“He won’t be able to play rugby league again if he gets a custodial sentence.
“He understands what he has done. He wants to turn his life around. He is better in the community than in custody.
“He has got a number of good character references. You can see a common thread throughout. He has a big heart. He has helped coach children with rugby. He has helped two disabled children. These are the actions of somebody good.
“The defendant has been disqualified from driving in the past. He has abided at all times with the court order.”
Ms Lenart said that since being arrested, Riley has taken part in counseling, and is in Recovery Steps. He attends AA meetings, which he finds “extremely helpful” and has also had contact with the crisis team.
Riley was sentenced to 12 weeks in custody, suspended for 12 months and he was banned from driving for 48 months.
Passing sentence, lead magistrate Keith Southward, said: “I’m sure you have already worked out that this hasn’t been a straightforward case.
“There are quite a number of offenses and they are all serious matters.
“The reason why we have suspended it, we feel there is a prospect of rehabilitation as you have engaged with AA, the crisis team, Recovery Steps and also a private counselor.
“We have taken into account all the references and seen the work you have done with children. That has all been part of our final decision.
“Hopefully this is the last time we’re going to see you. If you get through all of this, with a bit of luck, you’ll turn that corner and continue without a blip on your character.
“It’s time to say, ‘that’s it, my life starts again.'”
Riley must complete 120 days of alcohol abstinence monitoring requirement and 20 days of rehabilitation activity.
He was also ordered to pay £ 85 to the courts in Workington and Lancashire and a £ 128 victim surcharge.