Motorist who drove wrecked car up to 90mph on motorway spared jail


A motorist who drove a wrecked car for more than 40 miles along a motorway at speeds of up to 90mph has avoided a jail sentence.

Michael McCluskey, 30, was stopped by police on the M5 in Worcestershire an hour after he had collided with a lorry near Gloucester.

Gloucester Crown Court was shown photographs of the extensive damage to the grey Vauxhall Insignia, including a smashed windscreen, crumpled roof and badly dented bodywork.

Prosecutor Timothy Hills said the damage was inflicted when McCluskey collided with the rear of an HGV's trailer on the morning of May 30.

McCluskey failed to stop and the lorry driver pulled over and reported the crash to police.

Mr Hills said several other motorists also called dialled 999 after seeing the state of McCluskey's car on the northbound carriageway of the M5.

Specialist motorway police followed him for several miles before McCluskey stopped close to junction five at Droitwich.

They recorded him in the outside and middle lanes doing speeds of 80mph to 90mph, the court heard.

The previous day McCluskey had fitted a skinny space-saving spare wheel to the car because of a puncture and was not supposed to be driving at more than 50mph.

Police smelt alcohol and breathalysed him but he was found to be under the limit.

McCluskey told police that after the collision he stopped at the newly opened M5 services at Gloucester and filled up with fuel before continuing his journey home to Birmingham from Weston-super-Mare.

Mr Hills said: "He was interviewed by the police and was asked about the collision and he said he ended up under the rear of the lorry.

"He said he was driving at about 50mph but the lorry driver was driving at 56mph so he must have been driving faster than that.

"He was asked if he knew that it was a legal requirement to stop at the scene of an accident and exchange details and he said he didn't know.

"He did agree the car was in a dangerous condition."

At a previous hearing, the father-of-two, of Oddingley Road, West Heath, Birmingham, admitted charges of driving dangerously and failing to stop after an accident.

Graham Russell, defending, said his client had driven in "such an absurdly foolish way".

"He drove a long way in a car in a very bad condition," he said.

"He had a collision and he utterly panicked, finding himself far from home and utterly clueless about what to do next.

"He has a family and he is employed and he has expressed to the author of the pre-sentence report that his employment would be in jeopardy should he receive an immediate custodial sentence.

"He has two young children and he is the breadwinner of the household. He has put his lifestyle in jeopardy by his extremely foolish and risky actions."

Recorder Jeremy Wright imposed a 10-month prison sentence suspended for two years, ordered him to carry out 180 hours of unpaid work and pay court costs of £350. McCluskey was also banned from driving for 18 months.

The judge told him: "This was a piece of driving which was rightly described by your counsel as 'absurdly foolish'.

"This was dangerous driving over a sustained period of time when you could have stopped at any time."

The judge said he suspended the sentence because of the impact a custodial sentence would have on McCluskey's family.