Liverpool

HGV driver ploughed onto the wrong side of the M62 after falling asleep

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Media captionThe 63-year-old was jailed for nine months at Liverpool Crown Court after falling asleep behind the wheel

A lorry driver fell asleep at the wheel before driving nearly a mile the wrong way along a busy motorway "in a trance-like state", a court heard.

After veering across two lanes of the M62 near St Helens, Michael Hughes, of Stoke-on-Trent, smashed though the central reservation.

After waking up, he continued to drive against oncoming traffic before turning off at the next junction.

At Liverpool Crown Court, the 63-year-old was jailed for nine months.

He was also banned from driving for four years and four months.

The court was shown dramatic dash-cam footage as motorists swerved to avoid the HGV bearing down on them on 7 September 2016.

'Every driver's nightmare'

The footage shows Hughes drifting from the inside lane of the westbound carriageway, across the other lanes, before ploughing through barriers.

He is then seen driving in the outside lane of the eastbound carriageway before coming off at junction eight - driving the wrong way around a roundabout - and going back to junction seven to continue his journey to Seaforth Docks where he was arrested.

In total, the court heard he was driving on the wrong side of the road for about five minutes.

Nicholas Walker, defending, said: "It is only good fortune no-one was very seriously hurt. It is every driver's nightmare to be on a road and see a HGV coming towards them."

He said Hughes has since been diagnosed with sleep apnoea and, when police spoke to him afterwards, he failed every driver awareness test.

The barrister said he had been driving along the wrong carriageway in "an almost trance-like state."

Image copyright Lynda Roughley
Image caption Lorry driver Michael Hughes drove on the wrong side of the M62 for almost a mile

Jailing Hughes, a former soldier, Judge Robert Trevor-Jones described it as "almost miraculous that something catastrophic did not happen".

The court heard how Hughes had earlier started feeling sleepy but did not take the opportunity to take a break as he did not want to be late and get in trouble with his bosses.

The judge said what followed was "a quite bizarre course of dangerous driving".

He added: "What happened resulted from your decision not to stop when you felt sleepy and carried on pressing ahead."

One van driver collided with the rear of the car in front after they both had to swerve to avoid the lorry.

The van driver, Aden Stocks, sustained significant injuries to his neck and back.

He has been so badly affected psychologically that he has had to leave his job as it involved driving, the court heard.