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Sunderland footballer Anton Ferdinand given driving ban

Anton Ferdinand at Newcastle Magistrates' Court
Image caption Anton Ferdinand already had 12 points on his driving licence

Sunderland footballer Anton Ferdinand has been banned from driving after being convicted of using a mobile phone at the wheel.

The 25-year-old defender, brother of England captain Rio, was banned for six months because he already had 12 points on his licence.

He was spotted using a mobile phone while driving his Range Rover in Newcastle on 13 July.

The Premier League star was also fined £1,000 by magistrates in Newcastle.

The defender, of Newcastle, spoke only to answer his name and address during the brief hearing at the city's magistrates' court.

The player was also ordered to pay £85 court costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

'Important call'

Kerry Gate, prosecuting, said Ferdinand was stopped by a police officer who had followed the defender from the Tyne Bridge to Ponteland Road, two miles away.

Mrs Gate said: "He was leaning towards the centre of the car as if leaning on an arm rest and had his mobile telephone in his left hand against his left ear.

"As the officer drew up alongside, he realised he was a police officer and immediately put the phone down from his ear."

Ferdinand told the officer he was on his way to the airport and that he had needed to take an important call from his mother.

The court heard Ferdinand had served a previous six-month driving ban imposed in May 2007 after exceeding the points limit.

Ferdinand was arrested earlier this month after failing to turn up before magistrates for sentencing. The player then handed himself in to officers in Newcastle.

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