Former England Under-21 striker Saido Berahino today denied a drink driving charge despite being allegedly three times over the limit.
The Stoke City and former West Brom star claims he got behind the wheel while over the drink-drive limit to escape from armed thugs who robbed him, a court heard.
Berahino, 25, was arrested in the early hours of Monday February 18 outside VQ restaurant in Bloomsbury, central London.
Berahino, who was born in Burundi but received political asylum in Birmingham while still a child, was found by officers at the side of the road in his matte black Range Rover at around 3am.
According to court documents, he was breathalysed and the reading showed that he had 103 microgrammes of alcohol in 100ml of breath. The drink-drive limit is 35 microgrammes of alcohol in 100ml of breath.
He appeared at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court today (WEDS) wearing a black suit with a white shirt and black tie.
He denied one count of drink-driving.
His lawyer told the court he drove a ‘short distance’ to evade an armed gang who robbed him of ‘a number of items’.
Jake Taylor, defending, said: “By way of background the defendant shortly before the arrest by police was the victim of a robbery.
“This is subject to a police complaint at present.
“During the course of that robbery a number of items were taken from the defendant.
“Weapons were produced and the defendant got into his vehicle and drove a very short distance indeed.”
District Judge Nicholas Rimmer added: “It stops after 15 seconds.
“The issue is said to be duress of circumstances.”
The court heard photos of his injuries from the alleged robbery may be produced as evidence at the May trial.
Tom Gill, prosecuting, said: “They wouldn’t normally form part of the case in relation to drink drive. They show the injuries the defendant had at the time.”
Stoke temporarily suspended Berahino after his arrest last month. His contract with the Championship club runs until 2022.
Berahino, of Cannock, Staffs, is next due to appear at the same court for his trial on May 15.
By Adela Whittingham