Yaya Toure, the teetotal Manchester City footballer, has been given one of the biggest ever fines for drink-driving after claiming he unwittingly drank brandy mixed with Coke at a party.
Toure, a devout Muslim, was fined £54,000 and banned from driving for 18 months after he admitted drink-driving.
The 33-year-old never touches alcohol for religious reasons and always shuns bottles of champagne when he is given man of the match awards, but ended up twice the legal drink-drive limit after his costly mix-up.
He told magistrates he had no idea he had been drinking, even though he conceded his Diet Coke tasted odd, and although he felt “tired” he had not suspected he was tipsy.
He told the court that he had been to a house party where he had poured himself what he thought was Diet Coke from a jug, but later discovered it was mixed with brandy.
He had been the "designated driver" on the night of the party and drove his car with passengers in it, claiming he just felt tired, despite being double the drink-drive limit.
He told the court he thought his drink tasted different but only later found out he had been pouring himself a pre-mixed drink.
In a statement on his website, Toure said he wanted to explain why, as a Muslim who does not drink, he had not contested the charge.
He said: "I have always refused alcohol. Anyone who knows me or follows football will have seen me refuse champagne for man-of-the-match performances because of my commitment to my religion.
"The matter has now been resolved in court on Monday. As I was above the permitted limit when tested on the night, I decided not to challenge the charge.
"However, it was important to me that I told the court that I had not intentionally consumed alcohol. The judge in his sentencing remarks accepted that I had not been intentionally drinking.
"Drink-driving is a serious crime and, even though I was not intentionally consuming alcohol, I accept the ban and fine and I would like to apologise for this situation."
Toure told Barkingside magistrates he would be faced with considerable extra expenses if he was banned from driving, because he lives in London and works in Manchester, meaning he will now have to employ a driver.
Drink-driving carries an unlimited means-tested fine. Toure, who earns around £200,000 per week, was fined £54,000 with £85 costs and a £170 victim surcharge and banned from driving for 18 months.
He agreed to take a drink-drive rehabilitation scheme course which will reduce his ban by 18 weeks.
In December 2015 Toure escaped a driving ban when he was caught speeding at up to 101mph in his Porsche, after he claimed he had been confused by the car's speedometer, which was graded in kilometres per hour. He was instead given six penalty points.
The 33-year-old, whose brother is former Liverpool and Arsenal defender Kolo Toure, joined City for £24 million from Barcelona in 2010.
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