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Saturday, 20 September 2014

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Drink-driver parked in fast lane of M6 in Cumbria

A DRINK-DRIVER ‘parked’ his car in the outside lane of the M6 after driving down the motorway for several miles in the wrong direction, a court has heard.

Horrified motorists dialled 999 when they saw Andrew Graveson heading south on the northbound carriageway between Penrith and Shap in the small hours of December 23, prosecutor Dick Binstead told Carlisle Crown Court.

By the time police arrived the 28-year-old landscape gardener had stopped in the over-taking lane in the dark, with both his engine and his lights turned off.

Officers who found him slumped over the steering wheel, more than double the legal drink-drive limit, had to physically drag him out of the car and onto the relative safety of the hard shoulder, said Mr Binstead.

Graveson, of Abbey View, Roundthwaite, near Tebay, pleaded guilty to driving dangerously and with excess alcohol. Defence advocate Chris Evans told the court Graveson, who had a previously “unblemished character”, was horrified by what he had done and realised he could have killed someone.

He said Graveson accepted he would have to be banned from driving, so he would sell his £2,000 car to pay any financial penalty.

Mr Evans said that when Graveson’s driving ban expired he would almost certainly find insuring his car would be prohibitively expensive because of what he had done.

The judge, Recorder Philip Grundy, said he “struggled to think of a more dangerous situation” than a car parked without lights in the fast lane of a motorway.

“I’m not surprised there were 999 calls,” he said.

“It is a miracle that no one was killed and a miracle that there was not an accident. The police really put their lives at risk going over to you and dragging you out.”

The judge said it would not be unjust to send Graveson to prison.

But he added: “The easy answer would be simply to lock him up but I am not going to take the easy option.”

Instead Graveson was given a 15-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and banned from driving for two years.

He was also fined £250 and made to pay £250 court costs, with a £100 surcharge.

The judge also put Graveson under a curfew to keep him indoors at home every night from 8pm to 6am for the next six weeks.

“The idea is to curtail your social life,” he told him. “You should realise that going to the pub is something for you to enjoy, but it’s not something you have a right to.”

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