Ex-City star's drink-drive shame

Former Norwich City hero Peter Mendham fears his career as a charity fundraiser is in jeopardy after he was convicted of drink-driving yesterday.

Former Norwich City hero Peter Mendham fears his career as a charity fundraiser is in jeopardy after he was convicted of drink-driving yesterday.

The 46 year old, who was part of the Canaries' 1985 Milk Cup-winning side, was banned from driving for 12 months after pleading guilty to the offence at Norwich Magistrates' Court.

Speaking after the case, Mendham, who played for the club for 10 years and now works as Norwich and North Norfolk fundraising officer for the East Anglian Air Ambulance, admitted he had been “stupid”.

“In my work I am always seeing victims of drink driving. I know how serious it is and I should have known better,” he said.

Mendham, of Whitlingham Lane, Trowse, near Norwich, was arrested on May 20 after a night out with friends and family. Police officers on patrol spotted him walking along Earlham Road, Norwich, with his partner and instantly recognised him as a “football star of yesteryear”.

They then found his car parked in the wrong direction, close to a roundabout by the Roman Catholic Cathedral.

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When he was approached, his breath smelt of alcohol and his speech was slurred. Initially he denied the car was his until officers pointed out the air ambulance branded-Seat had “Peter Mendham” written on its side.

Mendham was unable to complete a breathalyser test due to a chest infection but later admitted drink- driving, saying he had consumed one pint of beer and two to three glasses of wine over several hours.

Simon Nicholls, mitigating, said Mendham had a clean licence.

He added: “Nobody actually saw him driving the car but he admitted it to police. He deserves substantial credit for this as, without such an admission, any prosecution would have been difficult.

“Having said that, if you are driving around in a car with your name on it, it is very difficult to claim it is not yours.

“His greatest concern is the harm it could cause to his fundraising work. This has not only brought shame on him but also his family and those he works for.”

Addressing magistrates about the possibility of a fine, Mr Nicholls added: “Despite a glittering career and having held up the cup at Wembley, Mr Mendham came from an era when footballers simply didn't earn the rewards of the modern day.”

Magistrates fined him £450 and ordered him to pay £75 costs.

Chairwoman of the bench Anne Duarte said: “You knew the potential consequences of your actions and that you posed a danger to the public.”

Outside court, Mendham said he now had to wait for a meeting with air ambulance trustees to decide his future.

“This was a one-off moment of madness and I'll certainly never make the same mistake again,” he said.

“The driving ban will cause practical difficulties as I need to travel for my work but there is also the stigma. I know better than most the consequences of drink-driving and I can't believe I did this.

“I am angry at myself because I am normally so careful,” he added.

“My work involves going to a lot of social functions and I am always careful not to have alcohol. Normally I only have water.

“But I committed the offence, I was caught and now I'll serve the punishment. I'm getting what I deserve.

“I just hope I'm allowed to continue my work with the air ambulance because it means the world to me.”