Former Huddersfield Giants star Keith Mason has escaped a jail term for a hit and run crash.
The former rugby league star has been banned from driving and handed a 'lengthy community sentence' after he crashed into a car carrying a mother and her two daughters before fleeing the scene - to take a nap.
Mason, 33, who played for Super League giants St Helens, Huddersfield and Castleford, wrote off a Mini Cooper in the head-on smash with his 4x4 Nissan Qashqai in August last year.
A court was told that Mason got out of his car at the scene but made no attempt to exchange details with the female driver before walking away.
Police later traced Mason who said he thought he was on the correct side of the road but was dazed after the smash from hitting his head on the airbag in his car.
But as former sportsman Mason appeared at court to be sentenced, the court heard that his primary concern was to put the criminal charges behind him so he could pursue his dreams of making a name in the film industry.
Stacey Smith, for the probation service, said: “He expressed his concern that these matters might have on his future career. He tells me he wants to get into films.”
His solicitor Charles Watson added: “He is very anxious to have these proceedings dealt with. He wants to move on with his life and he has various options open to him in the film/entertainment industry.”
The court heard that shortly before the collision, which happened in Birstall, last August, an off-duty police was driving to work when she saw Mason’s grey 4x4 behind her.
Mason’s car was accelerating and then having to brake hard whilst veering from side to side.
The court heard the off-duty police officer got further up the road and decided to pull over to let Mason pass and drive off.
Five minutes later, mum-of-two Katie Galvin was driving her Mini Cooper with her two daughters, aged eight and 11, when Mason came around the corner at speed.
She was doing around 15mph due to full-width speed bumps when Mason came around the corner towards her with the wheels of his car leaving the road as he hit the bumps.
Mason seemed to accelerate towards in the Mini before colliding head-on with the Mini, driving on for a few metres before getting out and walking towards the scene.
Mason later told police he was concussed after the accident and walked to his sister’s home and slept for five to six hours.
Prosecutor Beverley Rogerson told Leeds Magistrates' Court: “Despite his vehicle being recovered, Mr Mason did not tell police about the accident.”
The court heard that the female driver suffered back and neck pains since the incident and aches all the time.
Her Mini Cooper was written off by insurers following the crash.
Mitigating, Mr Watson said: “He said he was suffering from concussion at the time and blacked out after reaching his sister’s house.
“He has in some way disqualified himself from driving as he hasn’t got behind the wheel since the accident.
“As you can imagine many sportsmen find the transition period after retirement can be difficult and this tragic accident hasn’t helped that.”
Mr Watson told the court that Mason had signed court papers pleading guilty before a previous hearing, but the papers didn’t arrive in time so the court found him guilty in his absence.
Mason pleaded guilty in papers submitted to Leeds Magistrates Court of careless driving, leaving the scene of a collision and failing to exchange details.
Banning Mason from driving for 12 months, chair of the bench Pat Rothery said: “These are serious offences, with examples of bad driving that left injured people at the scene.
“We have listened to all the evidence and we have taken into account your guilty plea.
“We have taken the decision to give you a lengthy community sentence for this offence.”
Mason was given a nine-month community order and will be under curfew between 7pm and 7am for two months. He was also ordered to pay a £60 surcharge and £85 costs.
The player left Huddersfield to play for Castleford Tigers and sued the Huddersfield club in a case which cost the Giants around £200,000 in damages and costs.