FORMER Wales international striker and Wrexham manager Dean Saunders has won his appeal against an immediate 10-week jail sentence for failing to take a breath test after being stopped on suspicion of drink-driving.

Saunders, 55, was jailed for 10 weeks by District Judge Nicholas Sanders when he appeared at Chester Magistrates Court on August 28, after admitting failing to comply with a roadside breath test and failing to provide a breath specimen.

He had been stopped by a police patrol in Chester city centre on May 10 after spending a day at the races.

The court heard his driving had caused one driver to brake sharply at the Mecca Bingo Roundabout and nearly caused a head-on collision with another car in Boughton.

Saunders spent just one day in custody and was given bail after his original legal team launched an appeal against his jail sentence.

On Friday, October 4, Judge Steven Everett, Honorary Recorder of Chester, quashed the immediate jail sentence and instead suspended the 10-week prison sentence for 18 months.

Saunders, of The Paddocks, Whitegate, near Northwich, was also ordered to do 200 hours unpaid work in the community. His original driving ban of 30 months and 35 days, which included the prison sentence, was amended to 30 months.

Prosecuting, Dafydd Roberts said police had spotted Saunders travelling along St Oswald's Way at about 40mph before heading to Boughton, where his car was crossing between the two lanes.

Past Bill Smith Motors, where Saunders had taken the junction to Vicars Cross, he nearly collided with another vehicle, and police stopped him.

Police tried to test him for drink-driving, but Saunders had his lips about an inch from the breathalyser and put his tongue between his lips and a reading could not be obtained.

He was arrested and taken to custody, where it was repeatedly explained by police to Saunders that he must comply with providing a specimen for analysis or he would be committing an offence.

The court was shown several minutes of bodycam footage where Saunders – swaying on his feet, slurring speech and yawning – insisted on getting a solicitor first before providing a breath test, despite being told on numerous occasions he would be charged if he did not comply immediately.

Saunders was previously of good character, Mr Roberts concluded.

Saunders's new legal representative to defend him, Alistair Webster QC, said there were seven letters of character reference sent to the court, including two from representatives of charities and one from former footballer Graeme Souness.

He said Saunders's offence was "clearly out of character" and was a "misjudgment" rather than deliberately flouting the law.

The footage which had been released of a drunken Saunders failing to comply with police had been put on the internet and Saunders "had not been able to watch it himself because he feels humiliated by it".

Mr Webster said, despite his footballing achievements: "If you Google him now you are likely to see this footage of him at the police station. He feels humiliated and has let everyone down badly and wishes to apologise."

Saunders had "already suffered a significant punishment" from his experience in custody.

"As he was going through the prison corridor there were shouts and threats from the windows. He found conditions really unpleasant with dirty mattresses, although the prison staff were kind to him."

He was working with the League Managers Association on the lessons that can be learned by this for other people.

When Judge Everett pointed out that Saunders, from the pre-sentence report, had been unwilling to do unpaid community work as he said: "It would affect my work", Mr Webster said he had spoken with Saunders and he did not have that concern any more.

Judge Everett, sentencing Saunders, said the original sentence imposed by District Judge Sanders, with the evidence he had in front of him at the time, was correct, but new mitigation, the fact he had experienced custody, and the seven letters of reference meant he was able to suspend the sentence.

The judge, accompanied by two justices, said: "You undoubtedly drank rather more than the pre-sentence report says of 'three pints' – I see you are nodding your head, you acknowledge now that was not true. It's clear you had a lot of alcohol that day.

"We have seen your behaviour in custody – in fact we are unanimous on this – there was an element of slurring speech, you yawned very clearly at one stage, swaying on your feet.

"You tried to prevaricate on this night. You hoped to persuade the police that you could wait for your solicitor. You are not the first to do that. I hope the message goes out to the public that that is not going to wash.

"The police very patiently explained it to you. Once you were arrested the procedure must carry on. The whole aim is to obtain an accurate level of alcohol. When someone prevaricates that it's because their level of alcohol is very high. That is what you were trying to do, I regret to say.

"The District Judge was presented with this and, regrettably, more prevarication in court.

"It may or may not have been you received the right legal advice, but what you said to the probation officer was entirely the wrong approach.

"There can be no criticism of the original sentence passed.

"There are factors acquired to suspend the sentence. The sheer shame is going to live with you for the rest of your life. The video is now on Youtube. You went to prison for one night and did not know whether you were going to be bailed or not.

"You have strong personal mitigation and do a lot of charity work, but we found it slightly illogical that you would not do community work [from the pre-sentence report]. You now appreciate that you can do community work and that you will do it willingly.

"You have your chance, I suggest you take it. I suggest you tell others that it is not worth doing it."

In a statement published on the League Managers Association website, Saunders said afterwards: "I want to apologise to the court, my family and all of the people I have let down as a result of my actions.

"I made a terrible error of judgment for which I have been rightly punished, and I wholeheartedly regret that it happened. I accept that I have been given an opportunity by the court and I hope that people can learn from my experience. The message is a simple one - don't ever drink and drive.

"I will learn from this and become a better person.

"I would like to thank everyone who has given me support and guidance throughout this time."