Drunk mum jailed for driving damaged car over Pennines at 80mph

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A drunk mum-of-three has been jailed for six months after she drove her badly damaged Mercedes 12 miles across the Pennines at speeds up to 80mph.

Depressed businesswoman Tracy Korolczuk, 47, was followed from Sowerby Bridge to Denshaw near Oldham by a police officer in an unmarked vehicle after the plastic bumper of her already damaged black Mercedes struck his car while he was parked up in a lay-by.

Bradford Crown Court heard how the officer noticed that the Mercedes had already suffered extensive damage to the front passenger side and the bumper was was hanging off.

Prosecutor Stephen Littlewood said the officer flashed his lights in a bid to alert the driver, but as the Mercedes travelled through Sowerby Bridge at about 15 to 20mph the loose bumper hit a pedestrian standing by the road.

Fortunately the pedestrian was not injured, but as Korolczuk drove on the bumper also struck about 10 to 15 other cars.

The concerned officer called 999 for assistance in trying to stop the Mercedes during the early afternoon incident on March 28 and as the car travelled along the A58 Rochdale Road he could see it constantly mounting the kerb.

"He describes the driving as so bad he feared the driver might be suffering from a medical condition or was unconscious," said Mr Littlewood.

The court heard that the Mercedes reached speeds of 80mph on the A672 Oldham Road and came within inches of going down a banking into the Booth Wood reservoir near the Turnpike pub.

Mr Littlewood said at one stage Korolczuk was sounding her car horn constantly and the front nearside passenger wheel was smoking.

She eventually pulled into her home at The Coach House in Denshaw and when the the officer got out of his car he could smell alcohol on her.

The defendant became aggressive and abusive when the officer tried to take the car keys from her and when uniformed colleagues arrived she claimed that her human rights were being breached and she needed to collect her children from school.

When she was breathalysed about three hours after the driving Korolczuk was found to be more than three times the drink-drive limit.

Mr Littlewood confirmed none of the vehicles which had been struck by the bumper had suffered any damage and the court heard that Korolczuk had no previous convictions.

She pleaded guilty to charges of dangerous driving, driving while over the limit and failing to stop after an accident.

Barrister Alexandra Sutton, for Korolczuk, stressed that it was not a case of her client trying to get away from the police and mercifully no damage or injury had been caused by her driving.

She explained that Korolczuk was under extreme pressure personally and professionally at the time and was relying on alcohol to cope with her depression.

Miss Sutton said her client was deeply embarrassed and ashamed of her behaviour and her main concern was the impact of a prison sentence on her three children for whom she is the primary carer.

She said the incident had been a "wake up call" for Korolczuk who had now taken steps to address issues such as her depression and use of alcohol.

"She cannot believe she was so stupid and cannot believe the risk that she caused," said Miss Sutton.

Judge Robert Bartfield was urged to consider suspending any prison sentence, but he said there could only be one result when someone gets behind the wheel when they are "blind drunk" and drives in the way Korolczuk had.

He accepted that Korolczuk had suffered a number of blows in her life, including the recent death of her mother, and no one could fail to be moved by those matters.

Korolczuk will be released part-way through her six-month jail term and she was also banned from driving for the next 33 months.

She must also pass an extended driving test at the end of the ban before she can lawfully drive on the roads again.