Lorry driver who led police on a 'terrifying' 20 mile chase on the M4 is jailed

  • WATCH: Police eventually bring the lorry to a stop

A Wiltshire police officer says it's lucky nobody died as he described a 20 mile police pursuit of a 44-tonne lorry on the M4 as "terrifying".

When 53-year-old Andrew Champion was stopped near Reading , his breath test reading was 174mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath nearly fives over the legal limit of 35mg.

At around 10.45pm on Thursday 6 May, Champion was seen driving erratically on the eastbound stretch near to Swindon and when police first encountered him, his lorry was damaged and veering between lanes.

53-year-old Andrew Champion. Credit: Wiltshire Police

PC Jay Clifton from Wiltshire's Road Policing Unit was the first on the scene and praised the actions of a Highways Maintenance Vehicle which had switched on its lights to warn other drivers.

"He was effectively creating rolling barrier on the motorway and slowing other members of the public down to stop them from passing and getting anywhere near the lorry. That person's actions, I've no idea who it is to this day, probably saved lives"

During the pursuit, Champion ignored police signals to stop and came close to hitting a broken-down car on the hard shoulder.

A stinger was deployed by officers from Thames Valley Police and when the lorry came to a halt, Champion was taken from the vehicle. Inside, officers found a half-drunk bottle of whisky next to the driver's seat.

At Newport Crown Court last Monday (27/09), Champion, of Rhych Avenue, Porthcawl, was sentenced to fourteen months in prison and banned from driving for four years and seven months after pleading guilty to dangerous driving and drink driving. He was also fined £156 and will have to take an extended retest when his driving ban ends.

The lorry grinds to a halt. Credit: Wiltshire Police

Speaking after the sentencing, PC Clifton said: "I've been on the roads policing unit for 17 years and I've never seen anything like that before."

"It's not the damage he could do to himself which is going to happen, it's the danger to other members of the public."

"Had he crossed the carriageway into oncoming vehicles, had he gone into the roadworks and hit a member of the maintenance crew - people could have died."