Published: 00:01, 06 February 2018
A civil servant has been jailed after he drove on the wrong side of a dual carriageway to get to a service station because he was low on fuel.
Police officers spotted Georgi Hristov making the dangerous manoeuvre in his Mercedes in the early hours.
His lawyer submitted he could be given a community order or a suspended sentence.
But jailing the 37-year-old father of two young children for eight months, a judge said: “There has to be a clear and consistent message that those who take a shortcut such as you decided to do, thereby endangering other road users, will be severely punished to deter others who might be tempted to do this sort of thing.”
Hristov was also banned from driving for a year.
Maidstone Crown Court heard officers saw Hristov with his hazard lights on as he drove against the traffic on the A2 at Dunkirk from the direction of Canterbury at 3.45am on May 2 last year.
Prosecutor Antony Hook said Hristov was travelling around lorries illegally parked on the hard shoulder at a point where there was recently a fatal accident when a car collided with a parked truck.
Hristov was using the slip road to go to the Gate service station to get fuel. He told the officers: “I know I shouldn’t have done it. I knew it was quiet. I didn’t want to drive around, so I thought I would drive back.”
Mr Hook said the distance covered in the illegal manoeuvre was less than half a mile.
“It was lucky he did not collide head-on, no doubt with fatal consequences,” he added.
Hristov, of Colonels Lane, Boughton-under-Blean, admitted dangerous driving, the maximum sentence for which is two years imprisonment.
"It was lucky he did not collide head-on, no doubt with fatal consequences" - Anthony Hook, prosecting
Matthew Griffiths, defending, said Hristov had accomplished a great deal since coming to the UK, but would lose his job in child services if there was any form of custodial sentence.
“Obviously, this was a dangerous situation,” he said. “This can only be seen as an aberration. He thought there was not enough fuel in his car to get him into work in the morning.
“He decided very foolishly to make sure there was, instead of going to the next junction and coming back up. He thought the car was stuttering. He took the decision to go the wrong way, effectively down the slip road.”
He told Judge Martin Joy: “I ask you to treat it as an aberration in a man who is normally very rational. He stands to lose his employment.
“I ask whether in the circumstances it could be dealt with by way of a community order, rather than a suspended sentence. He is a civil servant and it would assist in the retention of his job.
“Disqualification will cause hardship.”
Judge Joy said the facts of the case were “undoubtedly extremely serious”.
“There was a high risk of a fatal collision occurring,” he told Hristov. “You knew you couldn’t use the hard shoulder, so you are on the carriageway.
“I am told you were under stress at the time for reasons unconnected with the journey. Quite plainly, the offence is so serious that a non-custodial sentence cannot be justified.
“I have come to the conclusion it simply would be wrong to suspend the sentence of imprisonment.”
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