Watch: Jailed drunk driver's wrong way journey along A14
PUBLISHED: 16:36 19 March 2019 | UPDATED: 10:07 20 March 2019
A drunk motorist who put lives at risk by driving the wrong way along the A14 near Stowmarket at 80mph – with two flat tyres – has been jailed for 16 months.
Sentencing Remigijus Katinas, Judge John Devaux said it was a “miracle” that no-one had been killed or injured as he drove west on the eastbound carriageway of the A14 at Haughley, near Stowmarket, in the early hours of Boxing Day.
The judge commended police officers who risked their own safety by using their police vehicle to stop Katinas’s car.
In addition to being jailed, Katinas was banned from driving for 32 months and ordered to take an extended re-test.
Richard Kelly, prosecuting, said a shocked driver, who was heading along the A14 towards Ipswich, saw Katinas coming towards him on the same carriageway, with his lights on full beam, and swerved to the side of the road to avoid a collision.
He sounded his horn, pulled into a lay-by and called the police.
An off-duty police officer, driving an unmarked police car, was also forced to take evasive action after seeing Katinas driving towards him and said that despite being an experienced police driver the incident had left him shaken.
Police officers who went to the A14 tried to direct the Volvo S40 being driven by Katinas into a lay-by and when that failed they were forced to use their BMW police vehicle to bring the car to a stop resulting in damage to the police car, said Mr Kelly. After the Volvo was stopped the officers noticed it had two flat and torn tyres as well as damage to the side of the car.
When they opened the driver’s door, Katinas, who was behind the wheel, could not support himself. He was arrested and taken to a police station where he refused to give a sample to be tested for alcohol.
The court heard that a breath test taken five hours after his arrest found he was more than three times the drink drive limit.
Katinas, 47, of Mingay Road, Thetford, admitted dangerous driving and failing to provide a specimen.
After his arrest he told police he had been drinking in a pub near Ipswich and thought he was only “four out of ten” on a scale of drunkenness.
Kelly Fernandez-Lee for Katinas said her client had no previous convictions and was genuinely sorry for the offences.
Detective Inspector Jim Gooding, who was driving the unmarked car, said: “The vehicle approaching had its full beam lights on and it took me a moment to work out which lane it was in, and therefore what evasive action I should take.
“In the seconds I had to respond, I remember steering to the left, ensuring I was as close to the nearside verge as possible.
“Fortunately, the vehicle passed me on the offside, travelling in the fast lane. I estimated it was travelling in excess of 80mph.
“While I am an experienced driver, the incident left me somewhat shaken – it was a very near miss.”
Inspector Gary Miller, from the roads and armed policing team, said Katinas showed total disregard for the lives of other people the moment he got behind the wheel.
“He wasn’t even able to stand up when the officers got him out of the vehicle, so how on earth he thought he was capable of driving a car defies belief,” he added.