Lorry driver went wrong way down dual carriageway for 20km


A lorry driver who managed to drive 20km up a dual carriageway on the wrong side of the road has been jailed.

Terrified motorists tried to warn Krzysztof Mazurkiewicz by flashing their lights at him as he travelled on the A21 between Sevenoaks and Tonbridge in Kent.

The dangerous driver even manoeuvred around another lorry which had positioned itself in the middle of the road in an attempt to stop him.

The 61-year-old, from Poland, was locked up for five-and-a-half months by a judge at Maidstone Crown Court in Kent last Thursday.

Incredibly, no one was injured during the incident but prosecutor Lucy Luttman said the risk to other road users was ‘substantial’ and aggravated by his disregard of those trying to alert him.

The court heard how police were contacted by several stunned drivers who saw Mazurkiewicz’s HGV and trailer on the wrong side of the carriageway at around 3am on March 22 this year.

‘One witness saw the defendant driving towards him and so flashed his lights to indicate for him to stop,’ Miss Luttman said.

‘The defendant pulled up alongside him and the witness explained he was going the wrong way.

‘The defendant didn’t respond but in fairness to him, the witness said he thought it was probably because there was a language barrier.

‘The defendant pulled away and continued driving against the flow of traffic. Numerous other vehicles flashed the defendant trying to indicate for him to stop.’

About 15 minutes later he was seen by another HGV driver still travelling the wrong way.

Miss Luttman continued: ‘It seems word [about him] had gone around the lorry-driving community and the other HGV driver tried to block the defendant’s path. 

‘He was concerned there would be a serious collision so he straddled the carriageway with his vehicle.

‘The defendant, however, didn’t stop and instead drove his vehicle around the lorry, up the central reservation area, and then carried on in the direction of the oncoming traffic.’

Mazurkiewicz was eventually brought to a stop by police, but his driving was described as ‘somewhat erratic’ by the prosecutor even as he was being led to safety. 

He initially drove towards the police vehicles blocking the carriageway, struck a kerb on the slip road, swerved and then collided with the rear of a patrol car as he pulled up.

He then told officers he had been driving for five hours, but then appeared to fall asleep in his cab while waiting for officers to close the road and assist him in turning his vehicle around.

Mazurkiewicz passed a roadside breath test and maintained he was properly rested and had not fallen asleep in his cab.

The court heard he had set off from Redditch in Worcestershire at 10pm, and was heading to Dover in Kent.

He could not explain how or at which point he had joined the A21 in the wrong direction, but estimated he had driven in that manner for 15 to 20km and at 40mph.

The court heard he had a clean DVLA record and no previous convictions in either the UK or Poland.

Speaking through an interpreter and via video link, Mazurkiewicz told the court he had struggled to work out what had happened that night.

He said: ‘I have been thinking about it ever since I ended up in prison and I cannot come up with a reason. If only I could turn back time. However, that’s impossible.

‘Bearing in mind my years of experience driving HGVs, I honestly cannot understand how I came to be on the wrong side of the road and I cannot provide an answer.’

Jailing Mazurkiewicz and banning him from driving for two years on his release, Judge Julian Smith – who gasped when he heard the details of the case – said he gave him ‘the benefit of doubt’ that he had not driven while exhausted.

But he said the fact there was no resulting accident or damage was down to the time of night and ‘attentiveness’ of other motorists.

He said: ‘This was a persistent, bad mistake rather than you being so tired you couldn’t think.

‘You unfortunately let yourself down and put other road users at risk.’

Due to time spent in custody on remand, Mazurkiewicz is expected to be released in two weeks.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected].

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