M5 motorway wrong-way driver Deborah Hunt jailed
- 7 September 2011
- From the section Somerset
A woman who drove the wrong way for 23 miles on the M5 in Somerset has been jailed for nine months.
Deborah Hunt, 43, from Langport, drove north on the southbound carriageway of the motorway in July, from Bridgwater towards Weston-super-Mare.
She was twice over the drink-drive limit and had no insurance, Bristol Crown Court was told.
Hunt pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, driving under the influence of alcohol and without insurance.
She was also banned from driving for 15 months and will be required to take an extended driving test.
She wept in the dock as Judge Mark Horton said he would be failing in his public duty if he did not jail her immediately for so serious an offence.
Judge Horton said it was "unbelievably fortunate" no-one had been killed or injured by her as she drove at 60mph in the dark after 23:00 BST.
The court heard that Hunt, an unemployed former financial adviser, was suffering from alcoholism and stress caused by her unemployment.
She is also fighting her ex-husband for custody of their children.
Hunt joined the motorway at junction 24 and briefly headed south before doing a U-turn and driving north.
She drove along the outside lane of the motorway before eventually coming to a halt on the hard shoulder.
She was found by police near junction 21 on the hard shoulder struggling to restart the engine of her partner's Peugeot 806.
Judge Horton said Hunt had caused "terror" to other motorists.
"You risked causing massive loss of life and huge destruction of property," he said.
"You suffer from a severe illness, alcoholism is a severe illness.
"It is tragic in one sense that society has forgotten, in its obsession with the damage caused by drugs, how much more damage is caused by alcohol.
"It is clear that the combination of the stress and alcoholism you have suffered created an extremely dangerous position, culminating in this offence.
"I would be failing in my duty if I did not reflect the seriousness of what you did by imposing an immediate custodial sentence."
Supt Ian Smith from Avon and Somerset Police said: "Deborah Hunt was lucky not to have killed someone or herself.
"Drink-driving is in itself an inherently dangerous act but to drive on a motorway contrary to the flow of traffic is an outrageously perilous act that could have resulted in the most catastrophic of consequences.
"What makes this more appalling is the lack of regard she has shown in terms of the consequences of her criminal actions that may have resulted in her own death or serious injury."