Man jailed for 'wrong-way' motorway chase

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The Independent Online

A motorist has been jailed after driving the wrong way down two motorways for more than 20 miles at speeds of up to 110mph.

A motorist has been jailed after driving the wrong way down two motorways for more than 20 miles at speeds of up to 110mph.

Other drivers had to swerve out of Ian Ellis's way as he raced towards them on the M62 and the M60 between Yorkshire and Manchester last October.

Eventually, police used a "stinger" device with spikes to puncture the tyres on his silver Ford Fiesta. But he carried on driving as the tyres deflated. After 23 miles on the wrong carriageway Ellis, a painter and decorator, finally did a U-turn on the M60 and drove on for a further four miles before losing control and crashing into a central barrier. He tried to flee on foot, crossing three lanes of the motorway, and punched a policeman in the face before he was arrested.

Ellis, 40, was jailed for 14 months after a judge at Manchester Crown Court described his driving as "utterly outrageous". After watching a six-minute video taken by the pursuing vehicles, Judge Anthony Gee told Ellis: "This was a particularly bad example of dangerous driving which was prolonged, persistent and deliberate.

"A moment's reflection of the video reveals that the closing speed between you and oncoming vehicles, which passed within feet of you, would be between 170mph and 180mph.

"Any collision between you and a perfectly innocent traveller would have resulted in almost certain death or very serious injury. This court has a duty to make it plain that driving in this fashion when you exposed perfectly innocent members of the public to grave risk will be severely punished."

Ellis, of Castleford, West Yorkshire, admitted dangerous driving and common assault. The court heard how police were alerted at 4am after Ellis's car was seen on the wrong side of the M62 travelling towards Manchester. Several police cars joined a helicopter in the pursuit.

Jane Dagnall, for the prosecution, said speeds up to 110mph were reached as Ellis reached the Worsley Interchange around Manchester, where police used the "stinger" to slow him down.

Andrew Fitzpatrick, for the defence, said it was "incredible luck" no one was seriously injured. "He wasn't trying to get away to avoid drink-driving or drugs charges, and even now he cannot explain how he ended up on the wrong side of the motorway," he said.