A COMPANY boss going well over 100mph behind the wheel of a Tesla sped past a police roadblock at three times the drink-drive limit before smashing into traffic lights at a motorway junction.
Sean Matthews ignored the 30mph rolling roadblock set up by officers on the M4 between Membury and Swindon in January, which was in place to look for a person who was reported to have been walking across the carriageway.
Instead, he shone his headlights brightly in the wing mirror of the officer and accelerated as hard as the cop had ever seen, the court heard.
In the high-speed chase which took him past Swindon, he exited at Junction 16 near Royal Wootton Bassett, mounting a kerb and ploughing into a traffic light, sending it flying 50 metres from where it was meant to be.
He failed to stop again, but his downfall was when his number plate fell off in the collision and Wiltshire Police later received reports of his Tesla driving slowly along the M4 back in the direction of Membury.
He was pulled over and found to be more than triple the drink-drive limit.
Sentencing the 39-year-old, Recorder Adam Vaitilingam QC told the court his driving was “simply inexplicable” and “spectacularly bad and dangerous”.
However, he imposed a community order because of his previous good character, instead fining Matthews, who runs Cardiff-based engineering firm Leridian, £5,000 – one month’s salary.
Prosecutor Jodie Hitchcock had told Swindon Crown Court on Friday that PC Harding set the rolling roadblock on the westbound carriageway of the M4 between junctions 14 and 15 at around 10.15pm on January 12 after receiving reports of a male walking on the road, so a search could take place.
“At that time the section of motorway was unlit. The police car was in lane two, the traffic started to build up.
“After about half a mile, PC Harding noted there was bright headlights in the offside mirror. Without warning, a Tesla accelerated at extreme speed and went past the marked vehicle.”
PC Harding pursued the Tesla, noting that his own vehicle was travelling at 110mph but still unable to keep up.
After leaving the motorway at Junction 16 (Swindon West), Matthews’s Tesla mounted the kerb of a traffic island, hitting a traffic light and causing the pole to career over its roof and land 50 metres away from where it was mounted.
“The defendant failed to stop, continued around the roundabout, and left the traffic light around the roundabout,” Ms Hitchcock told the court. “Officers lost sight of the vehicle.”
Eventually, police found him travelling east, back towards Membury, and pulled him over. He failed a breath test, with 114 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of his breath – more than triple the legal limit of 35.
Defending, Kirsty Day told the court that her client had been suffering “marital difficulties” at the time, including that his wife was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis three years earlier and that there had been a number of divorce petitions.
She had been working away at the time of the incident, she added.
“He went to visit her at her hotel, she said to him that ‘we need an exit plan for this relationship’, and withdrew that.
“He has been very, very clear in conference and throughout,” that this was not an excuse but context for his behaviour, she added.
Matthews, of West Penrallt Farm in Llanrhidian, near Swansea, also accepted unpaid work as “he is a valued member of the community”.
He pleaded guilty to drink driving, failing to stop when required by a police officer, failing to stop when directed by a police officer engaged in regulation of traffic, driver of a vehicle failing to stop after an accident, and dangerous driving at the magistrates' court on February 16.
Sentencing, Recorder Vaitilingam gave him an 18-month community order, to include 15 rehabilitation activity days and 100 hours of unpaid work.
Matthews must also pay a £5,000 fine and costs of £425, while he will lose his licence for a year and will need to take an extended re-test should he wish to drive again.
Want to see less adverts access to puzzles and special content? Become a digital subscriber
Want the biggest stories and breaking news sent straight to your inbox? Sign up to our newsletters
Have an event to promote, or you want to see what is going on? Check out our new calendar
Have a story or something you think we should look into? Send photos and info here