A man caught driving on his friend’s rims on the motorway gave false details to the police – while the VW’s registered owner was sat beside him in the car.

Carterton man David Seager, 46, had taken over at the wheel after one of the Golf’s tyres blew out on the M4 in March 2019 while he, his friend and the man’s partner were on their way to Devon.

Swindon Crown Court heard the car owner’s partner wanted to get her dogs out of the VW as they were parked up on the hard shoulder.

Seager ‘rightly thought this was extremely stupid’, barrister Susan Cavender said. When his friend said he didn’t want to drive the car on a blown-out tyre, Seager drove the ‘few hundred yards’ onto the slip road to junction 17 near Chippenham.

Two police officers were sent to reports of the car being driven with sparks flying from the punctured tyre. They stopped the car near a truck stop on the B1422 just off the motorway junction.

Seager identified himself as the driver, giving the registered keeper’s date of birth, his Didcot address and handing over a bank card in the man’s name. It emerged in court that the man whose details he gave to the police was, in fact, sitting next to him in the car.

The officers, suspicious about Seager’s ‘pin prick pupils’, tested him at the roadside for drugs. He was found to have around twice the legal limit of cocaine in his system.

Almost a year later, in February 2020, the man whose details Seager gave was arrested on unrelated charges and also held for failing to answer bail for the M4 matters. The police realised Seager’s lie but, by that time, it was too late to bring charges of drug driving against the correct man.

Mitigating, Ms Cavender said Seager was still friends with the man whose details he falsely gave. The man had driven the defendant to court for his sentencing hearing on Tuesday morning.

She said the case’s unusual features meant the judge could suspend any sentence of imprisonment, although she recognised that such offences usually resulted in immediate jail terms.

Seager was working with Turning Point to address a long-standing drug addiction, had a number of health issues and was ‘becoming established as a more law abiding citizen’.

Seager, of Alvescot Road, Carterton, pleaded guilty in May to perverting the course of justice.

He had what Recorder Simon Foster branded a ‘spectacular’ list of previous convictions, with 217 offences to his name. The judge said: “Whilst it is right to say that perverting the course of justice doesn’t appear on your previous convictions, and without being flippant about it, it’s one of the few offences you have not committed over the years.”

Noting the changes Seager had made in his life and his poor health, the judge said he would suspend the four months’ imprisonment for a year and a half. He said: “I am taking, I make it absolutely plain, a startling risk, it seems to me.

“If you, for instance, go out and shoplift something in the future, I don’t want to have to be the shopkeeper from whom you stole, the police officers who had to run around investigating it - all because this judge didn’t lock you up as most people probably think I should have done.

“I’m prepared to take the risk.”

Seager must complete the thinking skills programme, up to 25 rehabilitation activity requirement days and a six month drug rehabilitation programme.

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