A DRUNKEN solider diced with death during a nine-mile drive in darkness on the wrong side of a snow-covered M4 motorway.

Cars and lorries had to swerve to avoid Christopher Duggan’s Saab 900 as he drove dangerously on an icy carriageway following a night out in Royal Wootton Bassett.

And when a police car coming the other way tried to stop him on the hard shoulder the 28-year-old accelerated and dodged past him, coming within inches of a head-on collision.

But after hearing the Lance Corporal will be drummed out of the forces after 10 years service if he was jailed, a judge suspended the sentence.

READ MORE: Terrified officer: 'It was one of the worst examples of driving I've seen'

Colin Meeke, prosecuting, told Swindon Crown Court how Duggan was spotted going east down the westbound slip road at Junction 16 at 4.50am on Sunday, February 3.

PC Gary Rosier was heading towards Royal Wootton Bassett in a patrol car when he saw the silver Saab taking the wrong turn off the roundabout onto the M4.

Mr Meeke said the officer turned round and went on to the eastbound carriageway and drove, with lights and sirens on, alongside the car at 45mph to 50mph.

When Duggan, on the hard shoulder, failed to stop the cop raced to Junction 15 to get on the right side of the road while a colleague kept up the parallel pursuit.

Mr Meeke said PC Rosier ran a single car of rolling roadblock to protect traffic from the oncoming hazard, and when he saw the car he moved over to the inside lane.

But instead of stopping, the driver, who kept crossing the rumble strip between the hard shoulder and slow lane, accelerated.

PC Rosier said the Saab went between him and the barrier at the side of the road “missing the police car by a matter of inches”.

The officer keeping pace on the other side of the central reservation watched as the car weaved into lane one from the hard shoulder in the face of oncoming cars and large goods vehicles.

MORE: Police officer remembers "terrifying experience" of Duggan's near-miss

Mr Meeke told the court: “He said a there were a number of cars and large goods vehicles travelling west.

“At least two had to move into lane two to avoid a collision with the Saab which was straddling lane one. He thought at any moment there would be a serious collision.”

The Saab eventually stopped close to Junction 15 after travelling nine miles in the face of oncoming traffic. At the police station Duggan was found to have 82mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath, the legal limit is 35mg.

When he was questioned he said he had been out boozing the Royal Wootton Bassett and planned to leave his car there, but changed his mind and drove home.

Duggan, of Ford Street, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and driving with excess alcohol.

Emma Handslip, defending, said he was truly sorry for what he had done and could make no explanation for why he did it.

She said he was scared when he realised he was going the wrong way on the motorway which is why he did not stop.

If he were jailed she said he would lose his job and even with a suspended sentence he be thrown out of the army.

Passing sentence Judge Robert Pawson said “You thought foolishly, selfishly, it would be OK for you to drive home, you would be all right.

“Somehow, it probably reflects the amount of drink you had, you got on to the westbound carriageway but you were travelling eastbound.

“There were HGVs coming towards you in lane one that had to move to lane two. This carried on for nine miles.”

He imposed a 10-month jail term suspended for a year with 200 hours of unpaid work and £600 costs and banned him from the road for 18 months and until he has passed an extended test.