Thursday, 26 April 2007

The Inquest Adjourns

West Ham's hearing regarding charges relating to the signings of Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano has been adjourned until Friday. Representatives from the club, including chairman Eggert Magnusson, and from the Premier League attended the hearing in London on Thursday.The hearing broke up around lunchtime but proceedings are expected to be concluded on Friday.

Meanwhile, the squad's one club assault on the country's judicial system is continuing unabated. According to local media sources, West Ham footballer Matthew Etherington has been fined £2,000 and banned from driving for a year for drink driving. Etherington, 25, pleaded guilty to the charge at Harlow Magistrates' Court yesterday. He was caught at the wheel of his Land Rover in Harlow and found to be just 2mg over the legal alcohol limit, the court heard. The midfielder was due to go to trial at the magistrates' court but admitted the offence at the last minute.

Prosecutor Charlotte Davison said: "At 1am on August 25 last year, Mr Etherington was seen driving in Harlow towards Church Langley. He was stopped by police who carried out a breath test. It was positive and he was taken to Harlow Police Station. Blood analysis revealed 82mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood. The legal limit is 80."

Stuart Cooper, defending, said the Premiership star had not known he would be over the limit when he got behind the wheel. He said: "He had been at a friend's house, for a lads' night in, and he had had a few beers and was returning home. He felt fine, he didn't think he was over the limit. As far as he was concerned he was safe to drive and he was not breaking the law. There was no suggestion that the quality of his driving was impaired, he was not showing signs of intoxication. The officer simply said he could smell intoxicating liquor on him."

Mr Cooper said Etherington, who has battled a gambling addiction, had initially taken advice not to admit the crime, which was why his guilty plea was at such a late stage. Etherington, who was smartly dressed in a grey suit and yellow shirt, spoke only to confirm his name, address and date of birth at the hearing. He was banned from driving for 12 months, but told he could reduce the penalty by three months if he attended a drink-drive course. He was also fined £2,000 and told to pay £400 court costs.

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