THE manager of Whitchurch Alport has been banned from driving for three years after he crashed into a telegraph pole while drink driving.

Luke Goddard pleaded guilty to the offence which happened on the A525 in Whitchurch on February 13, this year, when he appeared at Telford Magistrates’ Court.

But magistrates stressed that given his previous conviction for the same offence in 2018, three months was the shortest ban they could offer after hearing a series of glowing references for Goddard, including one from the club’s vice president, who said he was “inspirational”.

The hearing on Wednesday, March 16, came just days after after the biggest date in the club’s history when they competed in the quarter-final of the FA Vase.

Sara Beddows, prosecuting, told the hearing that Goddard had been found by police following the collision on Shropshire Lane at 5.34am.

He gave a breath test of 59 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35.

Shahida Begum, defending, said Goddard had identified himself as the driver, no-one was injured other than himself, and he fully co-operated with police at the scene.

But she explained he was on anti-depressants and did not realise that mixing them with alcohol would be a “cocktail for disaster”.

Ms Begum said: “His mental health has severely declined, he has reached out and recognised there is an issue and is addressing this issue by seeking mental health support.

“He regrets that he did not recognise that earlier.”

The court was told that Goddard’s full-time job would be at risk if he was to lose his licence, while Ms Begum said that the references given to the magistrates describe him as “a lovely young man, good employee, community support and caring individuals".

“As someone with so much going for him it is surprising that he finds himself not once, but twice before the court for the same offence,” she said.

A reference from Alport vice chairman Rob Dutton said Goddard had helped to save the club from “extinction” and said losing him would slow down the progress being made by the club.

As well as the driving ban, magistrates made Goddard the subject of a 12-month community order and said he must also complete 12 rehabilitation activity days.

He must also pay a £50 fine, £135 court costs and £95 victim surcharge.

Chairman of the bench, David Styles, told Goddard: “We have heard lots of nice comments about the work you do with the community, the respect people have for you and we know that really you are of good character apart from two driving offences.”