Drunk driver jailed for ramming cars on motorway in 20 mile rampage in Manchester

04060 James Loveridge
James Loveridge was jailed for just under two years Credit: MEN

A judge said it was a "miracle" that no-one was killed after a drunk driver went on a 20 mile motorway rampage.

James Loveridge, 28, rammed into other cars and drove the wrong way down the M56 before eventually crashing into a fence in Wythenshawe, Manchester.

His shocking driving terrorised other motorists, with one, a veteran who had served in Afghanistan, describing it as "one of the scariest incidents" he had ever experienced.

Loveridge, who was found to be two-and-a-half times over the drink drive limit, was jailed for just under two years.

Prosecutors told how Loveridge was driving on the M56 on Monday, March 4, when traffic was "heavy".

The driver of an AA recovery truck became aware of Loveridge near junction 12. Loveridge overtook the truck and moved in front of it. He then suddenly began to slam his brakes, nearly causing the truck driver to collide with it.

He said Loveridge continued in this manner for about 10 minutes up to junction ten, preventing the truck driver from driving at more than 15mph. The truck driver took the opportunity to come off the motorway and call the police.

He was previously diagnosed with PTSD having served in Afghanistan, and he suffered a panic attack in the aftermath of the incident and said: "I have served in Afghanistan and have been in situations that someone of reasonable firmness cannot even imagine, however this was one of the scariest incidents I have ever been involved in."

Loveridge said the van he was driving wasn't his Credit: MEN

Loveridge continued along the motorway and another motorist spotted him ‘drifting’ into another lane. At first he thought the driver may have fallen asleep, prosecutor Duncan Wilcock said.

Loveridge hit the car causing damage to the mirror and door, and the other driver stopped on the hard shoulder. He thought Loveridge was also going to stop, but he carried on.A taxi driver then became the latest motorist to be targeted by Loveridge.

He had seen the previous incident and tried to avoid Loveridge, but at one point the defendant gesticulated at him and mouthed the words "I will kill you" at him. The taxi driver slowed down in the hope that Loveridge would drive off, but he also reduced his speed. Loveridge hit the taxi on three separate occasions.

The taxi pulled over onto the hard shoulder but Loveridge carried on, having reached junction six and then started to ram another car from behind.

Shocked motorists had called the police, and a traffic officer tried to stop Loveridge. Instead Loveridge got past and began to drive on the wrong side of the road from junction five, travelling on the hard shoulder, before turning off at junction four at Wythenshawe.

Loveridge then drove along Simonsway, clipped a minibus and missed the turning before crashing into a fence. He stopped the car and ran off, but police caught him close-by.He was found to be two-and-a-half times over the drink drive limit in an initial breath test, but later refused to comply with a blood sample.

The whole incident covered about 20 miles. Loveridge, of Firbank in Elton, Chester, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, failing to provide a specimen and driving without insurance. The van he was driving was not his.

"This incident of dangerous driving is one of the worst that I have seen over many years as a crown court judge,” Judge Suzanne Goddard KC told him.

She continued: "One is more used to seeing such driving on TV dramas. It’s a miracle nobody was hurt or killed that day as a result of your driving.”

Defending, Daniel Bramhall said Loveridge’s strongest point in mitigation was his guilty pleas. He said that Loveridge has used the abuse of alcohol and drugs following the death of father when he was aged 15 as a "coping mechanism".

Mr Bramhall said Loveridge is remorseful and "couldn’t believe that that was him in the footage".

Loveridge was jailed for 21 months, and had an extra six weeks added to his sentence after admitting being in breach of a previous suspended sentence.

He was also banned from driving for almost four years, and must take an extended re-test before he can get behind the wheel again.