A DRUNKEN driver was lucky not to have killed someone when he carried out a U-turn on the M40 motorway near Warwick after weaving across all three lanes.
And when police were alerted by a tanker driver, they found Marc Jones’s car parked facing the wrong direction on the hard shoulder, with him asleep inside.
Jones, aged 32, of Old Dickens Heath Road, Shirley, pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to charges of dangerous driving and driving with excess alcohol.
He was sentenced to eight months in prison suspended for two years, with 12 months supervision, and was ordered to do 100 hours of unpaid work.
Recorder Christopher Hotten QC also ordered him to take part in alcohol treatment and drink-impaired driver’s programmes, banned him from driving for two years and ordered him to pay £200 costs.
Prosecutor Charles Gardner said that in the early hours of Friday May 3, HGV driver Stephen Antrobus was driving his tanker northbound along the M40.
Fortunately, because of the time, although there were quite a few other commercial vehicles on the motorway, there was not very much other traffic around.
Ahead of him was another tanker whose driver seemed to be having difficulty because it was moving around a lot.
Eventually that driver managed to get past the Peugeot 107 car in front on him— and it became clear to Mr Antrobus that it was the car that had been causing the other tanker driver’s problems.
Concerned about the way Jones was driving, he slowed down and dropped back rather than trying to overtake, because he was not sure what Jones was going to do.
Mr Antrobus the called the police and alerted them to what was happening.
The Peugeot was swerving all over the motorway from the hard shoulder to the central reservation, but fortunately did not hit the barrier.
Jones was slowing down and then speeding up before he eventually stopped dead in the nearside lane; so the tanker driver pulled onto the hard shoulder to keep an eye on him.
Astonishingly, Jones then carried out a three-point turn and parked on the hard shoulder facing in the wrong direction towards the front of Mr Antrobus’s tanker.
The police performed a rolling road block to slow down other traffic, and as they approached the scene they advised Mr Antrobus to continue on his way, which he did.
When officers got to the Peugeot they found it parked with the handbrake on but the engine still running, and Jones asleep in the driver’s seat which had been reclined.
There was a two-thirds empty bottle of red wine on the passenger seat and an open but full can of lager in a cup holder—and when Jones was breath-tested he was more than double the legal alcohol limit.
“It is fortunate in the extreme there were no other vehicles involved, particularly when he was doing the three-point turn,” said Mr Gardener, who pointed out that Jones had a previous excess alcohol conviction in 1999 and one for being drunk and disorderly in 2002.
He added that Mr Antrobus, whose actions he described as “exemplary,” said it was the worst driving he had seen in his 45 years as a lorry driver.
Harpreet Sandhu, defending, urged the judge to suspend any prison sentence, pointing out that Jones has just started a six-month probationary period for a new job.
Recorder Hotten told Jones: It is evident from all I have read about you that you have had almost a life-long problem with drink. I regard you as someone who was vulnerable to falling off the wagon when under stress.
“You and other road users are very fortunate there was not an accident. Someone could have been killed, and it is a matter of good luck that you are not going to prison now for several years.”
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