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Six months’ jail for Woodborough man who drove on wrong side of dual carriageway

Swindon Crown CourtSwindon Crown CourtA drink-driver who went ten miles on the wrong side of a dual carriageway told police who stopped him 'I don't know what all the fuss is about'.

Oliver Wheeler, from Woodborough, decided to go for a spin after a drinking session at the end of his exams at the prestigious Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester.

But the 24-year-old – who will mark his 25th birthday on Monday behind bars – got on to the northbound carriageway of the A419 just after midnight and drove south, into the face of traffic, for a quarter of an hour.

And even when a police car managed to catch up on the correct side of the road he twice looked across, but made no attempt to stop.

Rob Welling, prosecuting, told Swindon Crown Court a concerned member of the public called the police a few minutes into Tuesday, May 10.

He said the caller told them he had seen the Ford Focus going the wrong way down the slip road in Cirencester heading south on the northbound carriageway.

"It is apparent from officers trying to attract his attention that he was completely oblivious to what he was doing," he said.

"It is clear that vehicle coming the opposite way had to take evasive action to avoid a head on collision.

"The first officer joined about two miles into his journey. He described travelling with lights and sirens on."

He said Wheeler looked across at the police car, which was on the other side of the central reservation, at least twice but neither acknowledged them or pulled over.

The car was doing between 55mph and 60mph in the fast lane causing other vehicles to move out of the way.

It was eventually stopped on the outskirts of Swindon when police on Wheeler's side of the road blocked the carriageway.

"They were coming in the correct direction and managed to stop the vehicle 5ft from their bumper. They were scared for their safety: they feared he would not stop.

"He was told to stop, the driver's door was opened. He tried to drive away but was blocked in by other members of the public."

He said the officers leaned into the vehicle ands pulled on the handbrake to stop him moving off.

"The police said 'Put your hands up and get out of the car'. He said the driver put his hands up, looked confused, and said 'I don't know what all the fuss is about'."

A roadside test showed he had 95mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath, which had gone down to 73mg at the police station: the legal limit is 35mg.

Wheeler, of Wood Road, Woodborough, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and drink driving.

Rob Ross, defending, said his client could not explain why he was driving as he was so drunk he could not remember.

Having just completed his exams after three years at university, he said he went out drinking then got into his car, probably to go to Wanborough where his mother lives.

As a result of the conviction he said his client had missed out on what he believed was his 'dream job' because he had now lost his driving licence.

He said he was also seeking help for his drinking after losing his father to alcoholism a few years ago.

Jailing him for six months Judge Peter Blair QC said "There is no alternative in my view but to give you this custodial sentence for punishment, and as a deterrent to others.

"Let it be clear to other students at the Royal Agricultural University, and in this area, that notwithstanding your personal and impressive mitigation, behaviour like this can't receive anything other than a prison sentence."

He also banned him from the road for two years and until he has passed an extended retest.

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