Golfer drove wrong way along A38 near Newton Abbot

Geoffrey Stephens Image copyright Irving of Exeter
Image caption Geoffrey Stephens drove the wrong way down a dual carriageway

A golfer who drove 10 miles in the wrong direction down a dual carriageway while in a 'trance' after drinking has received a suspended jail sentence.

Geoffrey Stephens, 68, had stormed out of a golf tournament in Barnstaple after arguing with other players.

He had already driven 60 miles when he went the wrong way up the A38 near Newton Abbot, Exeter Crown Court heard.

Stephens, from Torpoint, Cornwall, was given a four-month sentence, suspended for 18 months.

'Sheer luck'

Recorder Mr Andrew Oldland QC told him: "You created an extremely dangerous situation which could well have resulted in a fatal accident.

"It seems sheer luck that such an accident was avoided with vehicles swerving to avoid you by the narrowest margins.

"One police car attempted to stop you unsuccessfully and eventually another did so by shining a spotlight into your vehicle while travelling alongside it."

Image copyright Google
Image caption Geoffrey Stephens drove the wrong way from Ashburton to Chudleigh on the A38

The court heard Stephens was over the drink-drive limit but medical reports suggested he had slipped into a kind of a trance due to him being diabetic and not having eaten for several hours.

Mr Oldland accepted there were "medical reasons for the state you were in other than simply alcohol".

Gordon Ritchings, prosecuting, said Stephens had been at a weekend golf tournament at a hotel in Barnstaple on 4 April but left when he argued with golfers after the first match.

He told the court Stephens travelled south down the North Devon link road, onto the M5 and then in the wrong direction on the A38.

Ali Rafati, defending, said: "The best guess is that it was a combination of factors including diabetes, his use of alcohol and not eating."

Stephens, who admitted dangerous driving and drink-driving, was also banned from driving for two and a half years and ordered to pay £1,300 costs.

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