Mum, 39, drives away from court minutes after judge bans her from driving

A woman drove away from court minutes after a judge banned her from driving after she went the wrong way down the M60, hitting another car head on.

Simara Knopka, 39, was spotted by the Manchester Evening News driving away from Manchester Crown Court on November 5 after a judge disqualified her from driving.

The mum, who has never passed a driving test or held a full UK license, was pictured on the road minutes after she received a two-year ban.

She initially got into the passenger seat of the car but moved over to the driver’s seat and pulled out of the car park.

Judge Nick Clarke QC spared Knopka, originally from Brazil, from jail, after she pleaded guilty to driving a motor vehicle dangerously and driving a motor vehicle otherwise in accordance with a licence.

Prosecutor Neil Ronan told the court Knopka had met a friend and drank two glasses of wine on May 28 before driving home at around 1.10am.

On the way home, she used Google Maps to direct her and joined the M60 slip road at junction 15 on the wrong side of the road.

At the same time, another vehicle was leaving the motorway on the slip road and she drove head on into the car at the Worsley Braided Interchange.

Mr Ronan said the other car flipped over onto its roof, but by the time police attended it was established the other driver was relatively unscathed.

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He told the court: "He said he was driving home from Manchester and took the exit to Bolton and immediately after joining saw the lights of the defendant's Micra coming towards him.

It was dark but he said the weather conditions were good.

He added: "This defendant appeared to be straddling the middle of two lanes.'

"He saw her too late as he said the road was winding and he was driving around 60 miles per hour. He said the defendant was driving much slower, at around 30 miles per hour."

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Knopka was breathalysed at the scene and blew 26 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath – the legal limit is 35.

The male driver of the car was also found to be over the limit, providing a sample of 54 microgrammes in 100 millilitres of breath.

Defending, Thomas McKail said his client was a 'hard-working mother' who had made a mistake.

"It was a mistake to enter the road from that way and she entered the motorway at the wrong place. She is used to driving on the right side of the road in Brazil."

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Judge Clarke said he did not “find it necessary” to send Knopka to prison.

Sentencing, he told Knopka: “It is important that you understand that this was a very dangerous piece of driving.

"You were driving your Nissan Micra on only a provisional licence. You had learnt to drive in Brazil and all of your experience was driving on the right side of the road.

"You entered onto the wrong side of the carriageway on the M60 when you came off the slip road and you were looking at Google Maps on your phone as you drove. The driver was very fortunate to only receive cuts and bruises.

"Normally, in cases like this with accidents in those circumstances would lead to a custodial sentence but I have heard all about you and how you are a hard-working mother with no previous convictions and I have decided that I can deprive you of your liberty by punishing you in the community."

Knopka was sentenced to a four-month curfew, which prevents her from leaving her home between 8pm and 7am, fined a total of £600, and was disqualified from driving for two years.

She and was also told she would have to take an extended driving test when she is legally allowed to drive again.

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