Martin Vincent Kelly, 32, attempted a bizarre three-point turn on the M6 in Cumbria
A drunk lorry driver who could have caused a ‘catastrophic’ disaster after pulling a U-turn in the middle of a motorway has been spared jail.
Martin Vincent Kelly, 32, feared he was going the wrong way and attempted a bizarre three-point turn on the three-lane M6 near Shap in Cumbria.
Another motorist had to slam on their breaks and mount the grass verge to avoid ploughing into the Volvo Euro 500 lorry driven by Kelly, who was more than three times the drink-drink limit.
But the father-of-two has avoided jail after Furness Magistrates’ Court heard of his troubles battling alcohol and that his wife was fighting cancer.
Kelly, of Omagh, Northern Ireland, admitted driving a motor vehicle dangerously and when his alcohol level was above the limit.
He was sentenced to 26 weeks in custody and six weeks in custody, both suspended for two years, and banned from driving for two years.
The scene of the near ‘catastrophic’ incident on the three-lane M6 near Shap in Cumbria
He had drunk a quarter-bottle of vodka at a motorway service station just before the incident last August 12.
But after getting confused with his satnav he first pulled on to the M6 hard shoulder and dozed off.
Then thinking he had to turn round he attempted a U-turn in the southbound carriageway, which would have seen him turn directly into oncoming traffic.
The court heard how after slamming on their brakes the driver of the other vehicle found Kelly to be dazed and not even wearing any shoes.
Kelly’s his roadside breath reading was 107 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35 microgrammes.
Another motorist had to slam on their breaks and mount the grass verge to avoid ploughing into the Volvo Euro 500 driven by Kelly, who was more than three times the drink-drink limit
Prosecutor Peter Kelly explained: ‘He has been turning back against the flow of one-way traffic.
‘It’s a reading of 107 microgrammes of alcohol on the M6 and from someone driving a HGV. There is no accident fortunately. There was a risk of serious injury to others.’
Referring to the driver forced to mount the grass verge, the prosecutor added: ‘His attention was drawn to a HGV on the hard shoulder which was starting to move.
‘He moved lanes to allow the lorry to move out. The truck turned sharply and was making a U-turn.’
Kelly admitted driving a motor vehicle dangerously and when his alcohol level was above the limit
Graham Quigley, defending, said his client was of previous good character and ‘deeply sorry for what happened.’
He said Kelly had driven HGVs for some years, with experience of driving across the UK. Mr Quigley admitted his client had an alcohol problem and last year was in rehab and discharged in February 2017.
Two months later he started his job employed by Northern Irish firm Agro Merchants Group in the garage – but at weekends he drove the HGVs.
But that day when travelling overnight on the ferry to Cairnryan in Scotland, he was tired after raucous passengers had disturbed his sleep.
The court heard how after slamming on their brakes the driver of the other vehicle found Kelly to be dazed and not even wearing any shoes
Mr Quigley said Kelly later had trouble with his satnav and he was rebooting it on the hard shoulder when he may have blacked out.
He said: ‘The next thing he remembers is seeing the man (the car driver). I asked my client what happened but he was unable to tell me.’
Mr Quigley said Kelly was the father of a four-week-old baby, a two-year-old and his wife is in remission from cancer. He received excellent references from his employer which expressed that his ‘remorse is unequivocal’.
Giving a pre-sentence report, Brian Carruthers of the probation service said: ‘He is extremely remorseful about it. He has been having flashbacks about what could have happened.
Kelly, of Omagh, will have to take an extended driving retest after his disqualification period
‘He understands that it could have been catastrophic and he could have killed many people that day. It has frightened the life out of him what could have happened.’
Mr Carruthers said Kelly had not had a drink since, and was attending AA meetings and doing a 90-step rehab programme.
The court also heard Kelly’s family were behind him, and if Kelly went to prison his wife would struggle and they could lose their home.
Kelly will have to take an extended driving retest after his disqualification period, while he was also ordered to pay £85 costs and a £115 victim surcharge.
He was told by chairman of the magistrates Gary Ormondroyd: ‘Your actions were potentially catastrophic.’