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Ex-Sale Sharks centre given suspended sentence after police pursuit

By Ian Cameron
Mark Jennings scores a try for Sale during a November 2017 English Premiership match (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

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Former Sale Sharks and England U20s centre Mark Jennings has been given a suspended sentence after fleeing police under suspicion of drinking driving in June.

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Jennings, who was disqualified from driving, was pulled over by police at the Chester Road Retail Park, Stretford, Manchester on the 15 June while driving his ex-girlfriend’s Mini Cooper.

Police gave evidence that when he was stopped he was “smelling of intoxicants”. He refused to give a sample of his breath and fled police before being arrested under threat of being tasered.

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The 28-year-old had previously been convicted of drinking driving in 2017 but was caught drink driving again in 2019 and given a three-year ban.

Having refused a breath test, Jennings also refused to give a blood sample at the police station.

The court heard that Jennings accepted that he was driving while disqualified and that he had refused a breath test and a blood test.

The court heard also how a turbulent few years had resulted in Jennings going off the rails and losing his career as a professional rugby player.

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Jennings had accrued over 70 appearances for Sale Sharks, as well as being a member of the England U20 squad in 2013. Despite this bright start his career had been blighted by injury. This led to an addiction to both alcohol and painkillers.

In 2019, while intoxicated,  Jenning headbutted a police officer and threatened to rape another while being arrested. It was then placed on an indefinite sabbatical by Sale Sharks.

However, what had really triggered Jennings issues came prior to this, after a spell in a rehab clinic in Cape Town in 2016, when Jennings learned of the circumstances that led to his birth.

Speaking to RugbyPass in 2020, Jennings – who was born in Namibia – recounted how learning in 2016 that he was born as a result of rape caused him enormous trauma.

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“Around my dad, that he raped my mum and that was how I was born, that was the most difficult thing for me. Over the 26 years before that, when I didn’t know about it, I would never ever have thought in a million years that was who my dad was. That was the biggest thing, the hardest thing for me to get off my chest and talk about. After I have spoken about it, it is a load off my back and has helped me have peace with the situation.”

The judge sentenced Jennings to 16 weeks imprisonment – suspended for two years- for failing to provide a specimen for analysis and driving whilst disqualified and he was also ordered to complete a six-month alcohol treatment programme.

He was banned from driving for four years.

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Ex-Sale Sharks centre given suspended sentence after police pursuit

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