An international rugby player who failed to take a breath test after a car crash has been banned from driving for 18 months.
The legal team of Wakefield Trinity Wildcats’ Paul Aiton claimed he wasn’t fully aware of the breathalyser procedure as he may have been suffering from concussion and was acting bizarrely after his car overturned on Kirkgate. But the hooker’s defence was rejected by a judge who saw police station footage of him post-crash saying: “The club is going to kill me”.
The Papua New Guinea test captain went on trial at Wakefield Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday after denying a charge of failing to provide a breath specimen for analysis.
The court heard how Aiton, of Navigation Walk, was driving a Ford Focus on Kirkgate at 5.50am on August 17 when it collided with a metal railing and flipped over.
Prosecutor Graham Guest said Aiton, 27, provided a positive breath test at the roadside, which was just over the limit, and was taken Wood Street Police Station.
The court was shown footage of Aiton in the custody suite. On it he could be heard singing a line from ‘Only The Lonely’.
He was also recorded saying: “The club is going to kill me” and “that might work against me”.
Aiton was then taken into a room for a final breath test but failed to provide a full sample within the time limit. The court heard Aiton was later sent to hospital and his referral form stated he was ‘strange in manner’. The player told the trial he had banged his head when his car flipped over and didn’t really recall being at the police station. The court heard how Wildcats chiefs were concerned about him and he was examined by club doctor John Lynagh later that day. Dr Lynagh also saw the police CCTV.
He said: “Looking at the pictures he was quite considerably disorientated at times and was unsteady on his feet.”
District Judge Marie Mallon said Aiton’s use of the phrase “the club is going to kill me” was suggestive of someone who was aware of the context of the situation. The judge, finding Aiton guilty, said she was satisfied he knew what was required of him during the breath test and there was no reasonable excuse for his failure.
Jon Oultram, mitigating, said: “He is a man of some standing in the sport itself.”
Aiton was fined £1,160 and ordered to pay £620 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.
Aiton intends to appeal.