FORMER professional footballer and ex-Wrexham manager Dean Saunders has been jailed for 10 weeks after pleading guilty to failing to provide a breath sample to police.

District Judge Nicholas Sanders, sentencing Saunders at Chester Magistrates Court on Wednesday, August 28, blasted the current football pundit as "arrogant" and believed he thought he was "above the law" in refusing to give a breath test to officers at the roadside, and giving a specimen for analysis while in custody.

Saunders, who will also be banned from driving for 30 months upon release from prison, had initially pleaded not guilty to the two charges, which happened after Saunders had been to Chester Races on May 10, but indicated a change of plea to guilty the day before he was due to face trial.

The 55-year-old, of The Paddocks, Whitegate, near Northwich, was stopped on suspicion of drink-driving by police on the A51 in Boughton.

Prosecuting, Clare Bate told the court it was at 12.45am when police spotted Saunders driving at speed in his Audi A8, failing to give way at a roundabout and then driving over the speed limit after reaching The Bars Roundabout.

The court heard the former Wales international footballer nearly hit a kerb and had to brake and swerve to avoid hitting a vehicle in the next lane, before having to brake and swerve to avoid a collision with an oncoming vehicle.

Police stopped Saunders and could smell intoxicants when speaking to him.

Saunders was unsteady on his feet and had to steady himself using the car, while his speech was slurred and difficult to understand, the court heard.

Chester and District Standard:

Dean Saunders arrives at Chester Magistrates' Court. Picture: Peter Powell/PA Wire

He was required to provide a breath test but, despite numerous attempts, each time he blew into the machine it was too weak to record a reading and the machine gave a 'breath insufficient' error message.

Saunders was then arrested and taken to West Cheshire Custody Suite in Blacon where he was told to provide an evidential sample, but he refused, saying he would not provide a sample until his solicitors arrived.

Police warned him that was not an option but Saunders still refused so was further arrested.

The court heard Saunders was a man of previous good character, with no previous convictions.

A probation report heard Saunders had taken full responsibility and was "fully remorseful".

He had been to Chester Races that day, went for a meal and was adamant he had not had too much to drink - two pints at the races, plus one at the hotel he was staying at.

He told probation he was awaiting legal representation and "at no point" had he refused to give a sample.

He had asthma and was taking anti-inflammatory drugs for his back and knees.

Saunders did a lot of charity work and a curfew would not be appropriate given those commitments and for his TV punditry work, which required frequent travel to London.

It was suggested an unpaid work requirement "would only be set up to fail" given those same requirements meant he would struggle to fit the days in.

Defending, Conor Johnstone said Saunders "completely misunderstood" when in custody he thought he was entitled to legal representation at that point.

Judge Sanders said: "He was given umpteen chances; he was told very generously by the police."

Mr Johnstone added: "He realises the mistake he has made."

Judge Sanders, sentencing Saunders, told him: "Your driving came to the attention of the police.

"They were seriously concerned about you causing an accident, causing serious injury.

"You continually refused to co-operate and despite overwhelming evidence from CCTV which you, or your defence solicitor saw, you elected to plead not guilty until changing plea the day before your trial.

"Throughout these proceedings you have shown yourself to be arrogant, thinking you are someone whose previous and current role in the public eye entitles you to be above the law.

"In fact the opposite is true - someone in the public eye should expect a deterrent sentence when they flout the law."

Saunders was jailed for 10 weeks and banned from driving for 30 months, and will not have the option to complete a drink-drive rehabilitation course which would have reduced the ban by a quarter.

In addition, he must pay £620 court costs and a £115 victim surcharge.

Following sentence, outside court, Mr Johnstone said he would be appealing against the sentence as he believed it was excessive.