Football icon David Beckham cops six-month driving ban for bending the rules

David Beckham spent his football career not using his hands, on threat of penalty. If only that practice carried over into his retired life.

A London judge gave the football icon a six-month driving ban on Thursday (Friday NZT) after he previously had pleaded guilty to using a  mobile phone while driving his Bentley in central London last November.

A prosecutor said in court that a member of the public had photographed Beckham using his cellphone as he drove in "slowly moving" traffic and alerted police officers.

"Instead of looking straight forward, paying attention to the road, he appeared to be looking at his lap," prosecutor Matthew Spratt said in Bromley magistrates court, per the Guardian.

The witness said "the defendant was operating a handheld device at knee level. At that moment a photograph was taken," Spratt added. "The defendant was holding the mobile phone in the upright position."

Gerrard Tyrell, Beckham's attorney, said his client – who was on hand in court to give his name and address for the record – had "no recollection" of the incident but pleaded guilty anyway.

Beckham already had six points on his license for a previous speeding violation. The six more added to his record Thursday by District Judge Catherine Moore put him at 12, the threshold for the driving-ban sanction. He also was fined nearly NZ$1500 and ordered to pay around NZ$350 in prosecution costs and court fees.

In October, prosecutors declined to prosecute Liverpool star Mo Salah for a similar violation after video surfaced of him appearing to use his phone while behind the wheel as his car was surrounded by fans.

Police in Merseyside said there was "insufficient evidence" to prosecute him, though they did say he was given a talking-to by officers.