Bath lock Elliott Stooke admitted he was “incredibly lucky” not to have killed someone or died after crashing his car when over the legal alcohol limit in evidence submitted to an independent disciplinary panel.
The 27-year-old was one of three Premiership players charged by the RFU for conduct prejudicial to the interests of the game after he and Wasps hooker Gabriel Oghre attended the house of Bath and England centre Jonathan Joseph in a breach of lockdown rules in January.
A disciplinary hearing held by a three-person independent panel on February 11 found Stooke crashed his car on his way home, after dropping Oghre in the centre of Bath, from the social gathering in the early hours of January 24.
Stooke failed a roadside breath test after the “minor road traffic accident” before he attended hospital as a precautionary measure. He was later released and taken into police custody, where he provided further samples.
At the time the samples were taken at around 5am the readings were recorded as 53 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath (the legal limit being 35 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath).
In a written statement submitted to the disciplinary proceedings, Stooke said: “I understand the potential consequences of my actions and also understand how incredibly lucky I have been to not have hurt/been hurt, died myself or killed anyone. I have had time to reflect and understand that no amount of apologies can make this right.”
According to evidence provided to the disciplinary panel, the crash was caused by Stooke losing control of the vehicle when he reached for some water. It was also revealed the car was damaged to the point it was not capable of being driven further.
Stooke was charged with drink driving and is due to appear at Bath magistrates’ on February 24.
The independent disciplinary panel agreed that without the arrest of Stooke, the gathering would not have come to the attention of the respective clubs of the three players.
The panel only considered the charges related to breaching Covid-19 rules. The RFU will review matters further upon the conclusion of Stooke’s drink driving charge.
The three players were all first sanctioned for Covid-19 breaches by their clubs, each banned for one game and fined two weeks’ wages. Stooke was additionally given a written warning and ordered by Bath to undertake 15 hours of community service, while, Wasps ordered Oghre to undertake ten hours.
The RFU subsequently commenced its disciplinary action.
The independent disciplinary panel were told that together with Joseph’s partner, the three players played cards and drank alcohol for “several hours”.
Stooke, 27, and Oghre, 22, who had earlier arrived separately, left together at around 3am, a couple of hours after Joseph earlier retired to bed with his partner.
The panel rejected “as without foundation” the assertion that Joseph had been “depressed” at being omitted from England’s Six Nations squad the previous day and that Stooke and Oghre’s reason to visit him had come from “a good place”.
The written judgement saw Joseph, 29, banned for two matches by the independent panel, a suspension he has served. Stooke and Oghre were given an additional week to run consecutively for sharing the car and are free to play from February 23.
The panel found the three players were swift to acknowledge their guilt but did not accept the fact that all three players had recently tested negative for Covid-19 was mitigation.
The players were not fined because they had already incurred financial penalties from their clubs.
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