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31 October 2014, 16:07
Footage recorded from a police vehicle as it collided with a car that had been driven for around eight miles in the wrong direction on a motorway has been released by Hertfordshire Police.
It follows the sentencing of motorist Luke Goodall at St Albans Crown Court after he earlier admitted dangerous driving and failing to provide a specimen for analysis.
The 26-year-old from Orchards Way in West End was sentenced to eight months in custody for dangerous driving and four months for failing to provide a specimen to be served concurrently. He was also disqualified from driving for three years and will have to take an extended driving test before being able to drive again.
The incident began at 1.40am on Thursday August 7 when police received a report of a silver Ford Fiesta joining the northbound carriageway of the A1(M) at Junction 7 (Stevenage) but driving south. The car, being driven by Goodall, was seen being driven erratically and at speed in the wrong direction. The Fiesta passed several vehicles travelling in the opposite direction and narrowly missed a number of them.
The first police officer from the Beds, Cambs and Herts Road Policing Unit to attend the scene was Sgt Karl McDermott who was driving north on the A1(M), towards the on-coming Fiesta. He was about to set up a rolling road block when he was confronted by the vehicle. He slowed down but the Fiesta collided with the police car, finally bringing it to a stop.
Sgt McDermott removed Goodall from the vehicle as quickly as possible as there was still traffic bearing down on them. His colleagues put a road block on the carriageway to reduce further risk of a collision and Goodall was later arrested on suspicion of drink driving and dangerous driving.
Sgt McDermott said: “Despite the time of night there was still fast-moving traffic on the motorway and the darkness meant drivers had minimal time to avoid the oncoming vehicle. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the many witnesses who came forward to provide evidence in this case. It is clear that a number of drivers were left in genuine fear for their lives after describing how Goodall only missed them by inches. Goodall is extremely lucky that he did not cause a serious collision that could have resulted in people getting killed or seriously injured. At the time he had no regard for how much danger he was in.”
In sentencing Goodall, Judge Baker commended Sgt McDermott for his “significant and brave actions in bringing him [Goodall] to a stop”.
Following sentencing, Hertfordshire Constabulary has released video footage today taken from Sgt McDermott’s vehicle during the incident.
RPU Inspector Phil Bloor said: “In some circumstances and always as a last resort when there is an immediate risk to life – as was the case in this incident – the only way to stop a dangerous driver is to put a physical barrier in their way. In this case I am certain that the actions of Sgt McDermott and other road policing officers on that night were all that stopped a serious collision from happening. The driver was removed from his car for his own safety. Given where the cars were stopped – the fast lane of a motorway – it was imperative that officers acted quickly to arrest him and remove the danger to the public, to themselves and to Goodall himself. I hope video footage brings home some of the dangers present on our roads and the lengths police officers will go to keep them safe for everybody.”