SWINDON Town’s head groundsman has been jailed for three-and-a-half months after he was caught almost six times over the drink drive limit.

Marcus Cassidy, 40, was caught behind the wheel of a Mercedes Sprinter on the M6 with his lights off and weaving in his lane at 40mph.

This morning, prosecutor Ben Worthington said Cassidy sped away from the officer who tried to pull him over at around 9.15pm on March 6. He was brought to a halt at Junction 14, near Stafford.

He blew 205mcgs and 194mcgs of alcohol in 100ml of breath at the roadside, then blew a lower reading of 194mcgs when he was taken to the police station. The legal limit is 35.

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File image of Marcus Cassidy at the County Ground

District Judge Joanna Dickens jailed him for 14 weeks, saying: “This is an incredibly serious offence. It is the worst offence of drink driving I have ever seen. It’s the worst offence, the highest reading I have ever seen and I have been in this business for a very, very long period of time both as a lawyer and as a judge.”

She said the reading was so high she feared the driver might have died from alcohol poisoning. The case was aggravated by his low speed, his lack of lights and the fact he had made off from the police.

“It is so serious that only custody can be imposed,” the judge added.

Cassidy’s lawyer, Mark Glendenning, said his client had long suffered with alcoholism. His difficulties had been made worse by lockdown and he had drunk in order to “numb his brain”. His doctor had diagnosed him with adult ADHD.

Since the offence he had been working with a Gloucestershire addiction service to reduce his drinking. He had cut his intake to nothing by the morning of his sentence.

The court heard Cassidy would lose both his job and his Swindon Town tied accommodation if he were sent to prison, although he was realistic that custody or a suspended sentence was the likely outcome.

He was now head groundsman at Swindon Town FC having worked his way up first as a contractor from 2000 then, since 2007, as a member of staff at the League One side. He had won awards for his groundskeeping.

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Cassidy had shown a “considerable amount of remorse and a considerable amount of shame”, Mr Glendenning said.  

The groundsman's reason for being on the M6 on March 6 was not given in court.

The court was told he had last been convicted of driving with excess alcohol in 2012. On that occasion he was seen buying a bottle of wine from a garage then crashing into a metal gate as he drove away.

Cassidy, of Glen Court, Stonehouse, admitted drink driving at an earlier hearing.

He was banned from driving for five years.