Driver could have caused catastrophe in Leeds motorway plunge

Gang jailed after conning elderly people
Gang jailed after conning elderly people

A DANGEROUS driver came close to causing a “catastrophe” when he deliberately drove across a roundabout and plunged onto a motorway below, a court heard.

Andrew Jowett had to be cut from wreckage after he ploughed through a fence before landing on the hard shoulder, careering across three lanes of the M1 before hitting a bridge stanchion in the central reservation.

Jowett, 34, suffered seven fractured vertebrae in the incident after he drove the Ford Focus from Selby Road across the interchange at junction 46 of the motorway near Colton, Leeds.

The car went airborne before landing on the motorway embankment then plunging seven metres onto the carriageway.

No one else was injured as cars travelling in the northbound carriageway managed to avoid a collision.

One witness described how it looked like Jowett’s car was flying through the air.

Accident investigators were called to the scene as it was believed Jowett had been fatally injured in the incident which happened at 10.25am on March 20 this year

Shortly before the crash, Jowett had also collided with a Toyota Yaris being driven by a woman in Garforth.

That vehicle had to be written off due to the extensive damage caused.

Jowett, of Newlands Avenue, Yeadon, was over the drink drive limit and later tested positive for cocaine and cannabis.

The vehicle belonged to Jowett’s girlfriend but he was not insured to drive it. He took the car after stealing the keys from her home the previous evening when she went to bed.

Jowett was interviewed by police and admitted that he had taken the vehicle without his partner’s permission and wanted to take his own life.

He said he had taken the car around 10 hours before the incident but could not remember where he had been.

Jowett pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, aggravated vehicle taking and criminal damage being reckless as to whether life was endangered.

He has previous convictions for driving and drug-related offences.

Michael Walsh, mitigating, said: “I do not wish to be flippant but it is quite rare that someone so lucky has appeared before a Crown court.

“The car was involved in a seven metre drop and he’s lived to tell the tale.”

Mr Walsh said Jowett was ashamed of his actions and accepted that his behaviour was selfish.

He added: “This could have been a far more noteworthy event and a far more newsworthy event than it was.

“It could have been catastrophic and that is why it is being treated as a serious incident.

“He has asked me to apologise to those who have been caused distress by his actions.”

Jowett was given a 12 month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and made the subject of a 12 month supervision order.

He was also ordered to take part in a 30-day programme designed to address his offending behaviour and was banned from driving for three years.

Recorder Martin Simpson said: “It is quite clear that when people are normally driving dangerously they are failing to control a car at excessive speed.

“I am satisfied on the evidence that this was a deliberate attempt to end your own life or injure yourself.”

He added: “You were fed up with life and all that it was throwing at you and you were unable to cope with it.”