Wrong-way motorway driver jailed
A woman who drove 23 miles the wrong way along a motorway after doing a U-turn in the carriageway while twice the drink-drive limit has been jailed for nine months.
Deborah Hunt, 43, drove down the fast lane of the M5, dodging oncoming vehicles before coming to a halt on the hard shoulder.
Mother-of-three Hunt, of Langport, Somerset, was sentenced at Bristol Crown Court on Wednesday after admitting dangerous driving, driving with excess alcohol and driving without insurance.
She wept in the dock as Judge Mark Horton said he would be failing in his public duty if he did not jail her immediately for such a serious an offence.
The court heard that Hunt, an unemployed former financial adviser, was suffering from alcoholism and stress caused by her unemployment and an ongoing battle with her ex-husband over custody of their children.
But Judge Horton said it was "unbelievably fortunate" no-one had been killed or injured by her as she drove at 60mph in the dark after 11pm on July 14 this year in northern Somerset.
The court heard she got on at Junction 24 and briefly headed south before stunning other drivers by doing a U-turn and driving north. She was found by police near Junction 21, on the hard shoulder struggling to restart the engine of her partner's Peugeot 806.
Judge Horton told a sobbing Hunt: "You risked causing massive loss of life and huge destruction of property. You suffer from a severe illness, alcoholism is a severe illness. It is tragic in one sense that society has forgotten, in its obsession with the damage caused by drugs, how much more damage is caused by alcohol.
"It is clear that the combination of the stress and alcoholism you have suffered created an extremely dangerous position, culminating in this offence. I would be failing in my duty if I did not reflect the seriousness of what you did by imposing an immediate custodial sentence."
Hunt admitted all the charges at a hearing last month.