Swindon Town groundsman Marcus Cassidy has been jailed after committing the worst offence of it’s kind according to one judge.
The League One club’s head groundsman has been sent to prison for three-and-a-half months after he was caught almost six times over the drink drive limit.
The 40 year old was caught driving Mercedes Sprinter on the M6 with his lights off and recklessly weaving in his lane at 40mph.
This week saw prosecutor Ben Worthington say Cassidy sped away from a police officer who tried to pull him over at around 9.15pm on the 6th of March before being brought to a halt at Junction 14, near Stafford.
He blew 205mcgs and 194mcgs of alcohol in 100ml of breath at the roadside, then blew a lower reading of 194mcgs when he was taken to the police station. The legal limit is 35.
District Judge Joanna Dickens jailed him for 14 weeks, saying: “This is an incredibly serious offence. It is the worst offence of drink driving I have ever seen. It’s the worst offence, the highest reading I have ever seen and I have been in this business for a very, very long period of time both as a lawyer and as a judge.”
She added that the reading was so high she feared the driver might have died from alcohol poisoning. The case was aggravated by his low speed, his lack of lights and trying to escape police.
“It is so serious that only custody can be imposed,” the judge said.
Cassidy’s lawyer, Mark Glendenning, said his client had long suffered with alcoholism and the got worse and more difficult to manage due to being in lockdown, drinking in order to “numb his brain”. His doctor had diagnosed him with adult ADHD.
Since committing the offence, he had been in contact with a Gloucestershire addiction service so that he can reduce his drinking habits. He had cut his intake to nothing by the morning of his sentence.
The court heard Cassidy would lose both his job and his Swindon Town tied accommodation if he were sent to prison, although he was realistic that it was likely that custody or a suspended sentence was the outcome.
He was now head groundsman at Swindon Town after working his way up first as a contractor from 2000 then, since 2007, as a member of staff at the League One side.
Swindon Town have since issued a statement after he was jailed for drink driving.
Following the court hearing, a spokesman for Swindon said: “Marcus has been an exceptional groundsman and we believe the awards he has won is testament to his hard work over the years.
“Having said this, the club do not condone his actions and this is something we take very seriously.
“We hope that Marcus receives the help he needs on his path to recovery. The club will make no further comment at this time.”
Cassidy has a number of previous convictions for drink driving, including in 2012.
That time, he was seen buying a bottle of wine from a garage then crashing into a metal gate as he drove away.
On Monday morning, the judge sent him to prison for 14 weeks and banned him from driving for five years.
Cassidy had shown a “considerable amount of remorse and a considerable amount of shame”, Glendenning said.
Fans reacted as the Swindon Town groundsman is jailed after committing the worst offence of it’s kind…
@NigelNrh: At least he didn’t kill anyone. Not this time.
@haydenbedwell2: Can’t believe there are Swindon fans backing the groundsman after being caught driving when 6 times over the limit!! 6 times!!! 14 weeks in prison was not enough, and the bloke should never be behind the wheel of a car again.
@stfcinbmth: Oh dear Marcus
@GWReds: Alcoholism is a serious disease and prison time isn’t always the answer. We really hope you get the help you need to be able to live your life without alcohol dependency to shut up the demons and you’re back doing what you love at #STFC
@chociefrog: Sacking him isn’t the answer. Show some compassion and help him with whatever issues he has. But he has to want the help too.
@dMStewart87: Well said. He deserves to be punished but losing his job and having issues re prospects of employment is enough. I understand the danger of him doing what he did but ultimately, lucky or otherwise, he hasn’t actually done any damage to anyone bar himself and his family
@SwindonAMF: Hope he gets re hired after he’s served his sentence. Top groundsman.
@leefer3: Its a hard one… that is a shocking offence. I hope he gets help…we all make mistakes but he should count himself lucky… he could have killed himself or someone else.
@DanAdams09: Such a shame. I’m sure this will be a very big kick up the arse and turning point for him. Can’t defend what he has done at all I’m sure he realises this. I think Town will help him though and not just sack him , if they do I hope he takes his chance at turning things around.
@Mntg89: Fucking twat!!
@OneGFB: Doesn’t that just sum up the season #Stfc
@ALivingGod__ : Find it remarkable that some fans find ways to defend this. Hope he gets the help he needs and deserves, but sympathy for a man getting behind the wheel when drunk? Not a chance. Sympathy for addiction? Of course.
@lukemurphy29: Classic Swindon taking the piss
@OOCSwindonTown: Power probs told him it was non alcoholic and tipped off the police. Doesn’t have to pay him out then.
@BenzlWashington: Fucking idiot.
@OscroftOfficial: Never a quiet day at Swindon Town Football Club
@joshua35833596: One of the nicest blokes ive ever met real shame mistakes happen, would love to help him when hes out
@lukerfc08: Had to get some points from somewhere
@JohnDavidWood59: Must have had a field day, we have to draw the lines somewhere
@AndrewWilliamB9: It’s very sad , cant condone what he did but drink can cause many health and life problems
@NickBohane: I’d imagine watching Swindon this season would be enough to drive anyone to drink! Would probably be wise to check all staff on a routine basis!
@Rob86360719: The sentence wasn’t long enough. Six times over the limit. I’m sure @Official_STFC are very proud.
@STFCdan: Marcus Cassidy jailed for a few months. Pitch was awful anyway.