M6 wrong-way lorry driver Pal Korbely jailed
A lorry driver has been jailed for eight months and disqualified for three years after driving the wrong way down the M6 for 10 miles.
Pal Korbely, 50, of Hungary, admitted dangerous driving and driving a motor vehicle whilst under the influence of alcohol at Birmingham Crown Court.
Three lorry drivers formed a blockade to stop Korbely near to junction 10 of the M6, at Walsall, late on 7 July.
Judge Paul Farrer QC said the drivers would each receive a £250 reward.
He said: "They are to be commended for their fast thinking and brave actions which may have saved lives."
The court heard that Korbely, who was driving without headlights, had drunk home-made plum brandy before driving his lorry.
He was found to have 81mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath. The legal limit is 35mg.
Judge Farrer QC said: "You spent the afternoon drinking and then for reasons which I suspect will never be clear, you got into your lorry and drove for about 10 miles the wrong way up the M6 motorway with your lights off.
"The public have reason to be grateful for the actions of the three lorry drivers whose fast thinking and bravery caused you to stop.
"And Mr Korbely, you have cause to be grateful to them as well, because but for that which they did your position could be a lot worse."
Police said he had joined the M6 via the wrong slip road from Hilton Park services at about 22:25 BST and was arrested 15 minutes later.
'Nowhere to go'
Several calls were made reporting the lorry. The Highways Agency turned on overhead signs along the motorway, indicating that lanes ahead were blocked, and guiding motorists away from the lorry's path.
Simon Cotton, one of the lorry drivers to form a blockade on the carriageway, said after Korbely was sentenced: "I just thought that if I slow down and just block his path there's nowhere for him to go.
"I had a truck on my left. I never thought about if he deviated.
"He was in my lane and I'd slowed down so there was nowhere for him to go, he had to stop."
Mr Cotton, who was given a £250 reward, added that he did not feel he did anything heroic.
Sgt Robin Barker, from the Central Motorway Police, said: "Korbely drove along one of the busiest stretches of the motorway network in Britain, into oncoming traffic, forcing dozens of innocent motorists to swerve out of the way."
Korbely was sentenced to eight months for dangerous driving and three months for drink driving, with the sentences to run concurrently.
He has already served 32 days of his sentence on remand.