Drug-driver travelled 46 miles on the wrong side of M6 and M74 in Nissan Juke

Police car siren
Imran Zaman must serve a two-year driving ban when released from prison and pass an extended re-test. Credit: PA images

A drug-driver has been jailed for travelling on the wrong side of a motorway with police in pursuit.

Imran Zaman, 40, was driving south on the northbound carriageway of the M6.

Carlisle Crown Court heard it was 1am on 22 January this year when police in Cumbria were alerted by Scottish counterparts to a driver heading the wrong way along the M74.

One Police Scotland officer who had been escorting an abnormal load abandoned that job and correctly used the southbound stretch to shadow Zaman’s Nissan Juke as it travelled at 70mph during a journey that eventually lasted 46 miles.

“He was matching the speed with blue lights on, attempting to warn people driving properly, heading north, of the terrible danger they potentially faced,” said prosecutor Tim Evans.

The first of three Cumbria police officers to become involved in the incident sought to attempt a tactical stop — using two lanes to slow the other vehicle and make contact — but this proved too dangerous.

Three passengers left the Nissan after it briefly stopped near Carlisle before Zaman drove on.

A stinger device was deployed at Junction 41 close to Penrith and all four tyres of the Nissan were burst.

Mr Evans said: “Even that didn’t cause the defendant to stop."

Plans for another tactical stop were aborted due to the danger posed, before a rolling road block was set up in the area of Junction 39 near Shap.

Two officers drove ahead of the road block and the Nissan’s speed was reduced to 30mph before Zaman finally pulled over with a police vehicle parked against the driver’s door.

“The defendant came out clearly looking dazed and under the influence of drugs,” said Mr Evans.

Tests later showed he was almost seven times the legal driving limit for a metabolite of ketamine.

“If there had been a collision the combined speed would have been 140mph in all likelihood,” said Mr Evans. He found it difficult to think of a more dangerous piece of driving, barring a collision or injury, he added.

Zaman, of Topaz Street, Blackburn, admitted dangerous driving and drug-driving charges.

A man with no previous convictions, he had talked about travelling to Blackpool beach to clear his head, stating that his “mind was gone” and he initially even denied taking any drugs.

Jeff Smith, mitigating, said: “Mr Zaman knows that even if he goes to custody this morning, he is probably the luckiest man the court will encounter this week.”

Judge James Adkin spoke of a “terrible” probation service pre-sentence report in which Zaman had made a number of concerning comments, including his intention to keep taking drugs until the day he dies.

Mr Smith said: “He knows his drug use must come to an end, otherwise he is going to kill himself or someone else.”

Judge Adkin jailed Zaman for 18 months. He said: “You engaged in an extraordinary piece of dangerous driving."

He added: “This was a long police pursuit, the wrong way down an arterial route in Cumbria.

“You don’t appear to have any significant remorse.”

Zaman must serve a two-year driving ban when released from prison and pass an extended re-test.