M56 motorway mayhem: Chester drink driver causes carnage over 20 miles ending in crash

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-Credit: (Image: Facebook)

A judge has described it as a 'miracle' that no fatalities occurred after a drunk driver's 20-mile rampage on the motorway. James Loveridge, aged 28, caused chaos by ramming into vehicles and driving in the wrong direction along the M56, before finally crashing into a fence in Wythenshawe.

His reckless behaviour left other drivers terrified, with one motorist, who had served in Afghanistan, recounting it as 'one of the scariest incidents' he had ever faced. Found to be two-and-a-half times over the legal alcohol limit for driving, Loveridge received a prison sentence of just under two years.

Judge Suzanne Goddard KC, addressing him at Manchester Crown Court, said: "This incident of dangerous driving is one of the worst that I have seen over many years as a crown court judge," and added, "One is more used to seeing such driving on TV dramas."

She continued, "It's a miracle nobody was hurt or killed that day as a result of your driving."

The court was informed that over a decade ago, Loveridge's father had died in a car accident, reports the Manchester Evening News.

The prosecution detailed the events of Monday, March 4, when Loveridge was driving on the M56 amidst 'heavy' traffic. An AA recovery truck driver first noticed Loveridge's erratic driving near junction 12.

After overtaking the truck, Loveridge cut in front and began braking abruptly, nearly causing a collision with the truck.

He recounted how Loveridge persisted in this behaviour for around 10 minutes up to junction ten, restricting the lorry driver's speed to no more than 15mph. Seizing an opportunity, the trucker exited the motorway to alert the authorities.

The truck driver, who had been previously diagnosed with PTSD following his service in Afghanistan, experienced a panic attack following the ordeal. "I have served in Afghanistan and have been in situations that someone of reasonable firmness cannot even imagine, however this was one of the scariest incidents I have ever been involved in," he later expressed.

Continuing on the motorway, Loveridge was seen by another driver 'drifting' into a different lane, leading the witness to speculate that the driver might have dozed off, according to prosecutor Duncan Wilcock.

After colliding with the vehicle, causing damage to its mirror and door, Loveridge did not stop, despite the other motorist pulling over to the hard shoulder in anticipation.

Subsequently, a taxi driver found himself in Loveridge's crosshairs. Having witnessed the prior collision, the cabbie attempted to steer clear of Loveridge, but was met with threatening gestures and words from the defendant, who mouthed 'I will kill you'.

In hopes of Loveridge moving on, the taxi driver reduced his speed, only to find Loveridge matching his pace and striking the taxi three times.

Eventually, the taxi sought refuge on the hard shoulder, while Loveridge continued unabated until reaching junction six, where he began ramming another car from behind.

Motorists, taken aback by the situation, alerted the police and a traffic officer attempted to halt Loveridge. However, Loveridge managed to evade the officer and began driving on the wrong side of the road from junction five, using the hard shoulder, before exiting at junction four at Wythenshawe.

Loveridge then proceeded along Simonsway, grazed a minibus and missed his turn before colliding with a fence. He abandoned the car and fled on foot, but was apprehended by police nearby.

An initial breath test revealed he was two-and-a-half times over the drink drive limit, but he later refused to provide a blood sample. The entire incident spanned approximately 20 miles.

Loveridge, from Firbank in Elton, Chester, admitted to dangerous driving, failing to provide a specimen and driving without insurance. The van he was driving did not belong to him.

In his defence, Daniel Bramhall stated that Loveridge's most significant mitigating factor was his guilty pleas. He explained that Loveridge had turned to alcohol and drugs as a 'coping mechanism' following the death of his father when he was just 15 years old.

Mr Bramhall expressed that Loveridge is filled with remorse and 'couldn't believe that that was him in the footage'. He received a prison sentence of 21 months, with an additional six weeks added for breaching a previous suspended sentence.

Loveridge has been disqualified from driving for nearly four years and must pass an extended re-test before he can drive again.

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