HGV driver jailed after drink drive arrest
An HGV driver involved in a police pursuit along the M4 in West Berkshire has been jailed. And a Wiltshire police officer said it was lucky nobody died, as he described the 20 mile police pursuit of the 44-tonne lorry as “terrifying”. When 53-year-old Andrew Champion was finally stopped near Reading, his breath test reading was 174mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath – nearly five times over the legal limit of 35mg.
At around 10.45pm on Thursday, May 6, Champion was seen driving erratically on the eastbound stretch of the motorway close to Swindon and when police first encountered him, his lorry was damaged and veering between lanes. PC Jay Clifton from Wiltshire’s Road Policing Unit was the first on the scene and praised the actions of a Highways Maintenance Vehicle, which had switched on its lights to warn other drivers.
“He was effectively creating a rolling barrier on the motorway and slowing other members of the public down to stop them from passing and getting anywhere near the lorry,” he said. “That person’s actions, I’ve no idea who it is to this day, probably saved lives.” During the pursuit, Champion ignored police signals to stop and came close to hitting a broken-down car on the hard shoulder.
“The lorry weaved from the second lane on to the hard shoulder, missing a recovery vehicle and the vehicle being recovered by a couple of feet,” added PC Clifton. “How he didn’t hit them, I don’t know.
It was terrifying” A stinger was then deployed by officers from Thames Valley Police and when the lorry came to a halt, Champion was taken from the vehicle. Inside, officers found a half-drunk bottle of whisky next to the driver’s seat.
At Newport Crown Court on Monday September 27, Champion, who lives in Porthcawl, was sentenced to fourteen months in prison and banned from driving for four years and seven months after pleading guilty to dangerous driving and drink driving. He was also fined GBP156 and will have to take an extended retest when his driving ban ends. Speaking after the sentencing, PC Clifton said: “I’ve been on the roads policing unit for 17 years and I’ve never seen anything like that before.
“It’s not the damage he could do to himself which is going to happen, it’s the danger to other members of the public.
“Had he crossed the carriageway into oncoming vehicles, had he gone into the roadworks and hit a member of the maintenance crew – people could have died.”