Sunderland’s Grant Leadbitter banned from driving because of Geordie-phobia

Posted by - August 12, 2009 - Newcastle United, Oddballs, Sunderland

Black Cat midfielder scared into speeding by alleged Magpie mob

Sunderland midfielder Grant Leadbitter was handed a driving ban yesterday despite pleading that it was fear of Newcastle fans that caused him to hit speeds of up to 112mph. The 23-year-old had allegedly clashed with Newcastle supporters during a night out and Gateshead Magistrates Court heard that Leadbitter accelerated away from a vehicle he thought contained the group he had fallen out with.

The vehicle he sped away from actually contained police officer Sergeant Lynee McKevitt. She said: “I would describe his driving as aggressive. He was accelerating harshly and breaking harshly.”

The court was told that Leadbitter was concerned by a vehicle that sped up when he sped up, slowed down when he slowed down and swapped lanes when he swapped lanes. He became convinced that the Newcastle fans were attempted to follow him home.

District judge Roger Elsey had some sympathy for Leadbitter and his paranoia, but said if he had been paying full attention he would have noticed that he had previously overtaken the car he thought had followed him from Newcastle city centre!

He said: “While I accept he may have thought the vehicle from Askew Road was following him, he could not have thought it was following him from Newcastle city centre and therefore I do not find there are special reasons not to endorse or disqualify him. I do consider, however, that his belief from Askew Road, though unreasonable, was genuine and that reduces the sentence I would otherwise have imposed.”

Leadbitter was banned from driving for 14 days, fined £250 and ordered to pay £250 prosecution costs plus a £15 victim’s surcharge.