A 23-year-old lorry driver from Europe performed a u-turn in a heavy goods lorry and drove the wrong way up the M6 because he only had Euros to pay a toll fee.
Vasyl Mordovets, a Ukrainian national, was sentenced to six months imprisonment in Stafford Crown Court on the 21st February and was disqualified from driving for 15 months.
The court heard that Modovets carried out the manoeuvre after realising he was in a card-only lane of the M6 toll and had no British currency in his possession.
The incident occurred on the 21st January 2020 at 7:50 am when Mr. Mordovets was travelling from Birmingham to Newcastle when he approached the M6 toll motorway in his lorry which was carrying windows for his Ukrainian employer.
Once Mr. Mordovets approached the toll, he discovered that it was the card-only lane, which he only had Euros as payment. Due to this, Mr. Mordovets reversed out of the toll booth, committed a U-turn, and travelled back up the motorway on a slip road before joining the M6 again the right way. He kept to the right-hand side of traffic, many passing vehicles began flashing him with their lights and had to make evasive manoeuvres to avoid the oncoming HGV vehicle.
The police soon pulled over Mr. Mordovets and he was consequently held in custody for three weeks before the trial.
In the sentencing, four still images were shown to his honourable judge Michael Chambers showing the HGV travelling back up the M6 illegally. Mr. Mordovets’ defence lawyer, Ms. Alison Downs, started her case by stating, “hindsight is a wonderful thing”.
She explained that Mr. Mordovets is someone who travels regularly from Ukraine to the UK and has never had trouble before. She also stated that Mr. Mordovets only earns 200 US dollars in wages, the toll payment was £12, and that Ukraine doesn’t have any toll roads and so Mr. Mordovets was at a disadvantage.
The defence tried to argue that, due to the time of day, the toll road would have been quiet but Judge Chambers was quick to let it be known that he disagreed with that statement, explaining how it actually would have been busier as it would be filled with commuters.
Judge Chambers then stated that, as a driver and a frequent visitor to the UK, Mr. Mordovets has a responsibility to know how “to drive on the correct side of the road and know the rules of the road”.
He also stated that the lorry driver was actually going the completely wrong direction, southbound, to complete his journey, something that Judge Chambers couldn’t comprehend. The Judge asked why Mr. Mordovets decided to travel that direction and, when asked, Mr. Mordovets shrugged, unsure.
Ms. Downs stated that her client had no idea that doing a U-turn was so serious and that her client cooperated with the police. She also stated that her client has to pay a £650 fine to his employer as they had to come to pick up the lorry after it was impounded, Mr. Mordovets aims to pay this off working as a mechanic, Ms. Downs explaining that this was why he needed to return to Ukraine immediately after being released from his 3-week custody. Ms.Downs even stated that her client would be fine with Judge Chambers deporting him, which the judge was quick to state, “that is out of my power”.
Judge Chambers, during Mr. Mordovets sentencing, then stated: “In this modern world of satellite navigation and strict timetables for lorry drivers, I find that difficult to understand. Clearly you should have stopped, and sought help. What you did do was carry out a U-turn and drive in the wrong direction, putting other drivers at risk.”
A Staffordshire Police spokesman said: “Imagine this on your morning commute. The driver of this lorry was jailed for six months and disqualified from driving for 15 months after he was caught driving dangerously on the M6 Toll last month.
“Thankfully, no one was injured.”
Watch the camera footage released by Staffordshire Police below to see the incident mentioned above.