A driver left a woman and her three dogs with serious injuries after he joined the M5 in the wrong direction and crashed head on into her car.

Ryan Physick had been celebrating his birthday before attempting to drive home from East Devon to Somerset and took the wrong slipway onto the motorway.

He crashed into a car within minutes of joining the M5 and fled the scene on foot, leaving a female passenger trapped in the wreckage of her car.

He was later arrested and failed a roadside breath test and asked officers: “Have I killed anyone? I was stupid, okay?”

The driver of the other car escaped with minor injuries but his wife, his passenger, had to be cut free and spent four days in hospital with shoulder, back, rib, knee and hand injuries.

She was off work for weeks and is not fully mobile almost five months on.

The couple’s dogs were in the back of the car and were all injured.

The passenger said she was terrified she and her dogs would die in the accident and she still suffers flashbacks and nightmares.

Electrician Physick, 27, of Langmead Road, Crewkerne, admitted causing serious injury by dangerous driving and having no insurance.

He was jailed for 16 months, suspended for 18 months, ordered to do 150 hours unpaid work and pay £612 costs and victim surcharge by Mr Recorder Jaron Crooknorth at Exeter Crown Court.

He was banned from driving for 30 months.

The judge told Physick: “It beggars beliefs that you did not kill somebody. I suspect the thought of that lives with you; and so it should.

“This was obviously a highly dangerous and prolonged incident which involved driving along the motorway in the wrong direction.”

Lewis Aldous, prosecuting, said Physick entered the motorway down the exit slipway and crashed between the Tiverton and Cullompton junctions, writing off both cars.

He said: “The defendant was detained in Willand with a broken arm. He asked if he had killed someone and told the officer, ‘All I want to say is that it is my birthday and I have massively effed up’.”

A roadside breath test proved positive but there was a fault with the evidential test procedure, meaning no reading was available.

The female passenger's victim statement said: “I remember screaming. My body felt like the life was being crushed out of it.

“I will never forget the car spinning round and round and the noise of the metal and glass breaking.

"I thought we would be hit again by another car and that would be it.”

David Hayes, defending, said Physick accepted he had drunk more than he should before trying to drive.

There had been a diversion on the road which had confused him and ended up travelling the wrong way on the M5 without realising.

He left the scene because other drivers who stopped were being aggressive. He had no insurance because of a mix-up with a standing order after he changed bank.

Mr Hayes said: “This was not a deliberate act but rather a gross error of judgment with terrible consequences for all concerned. No words can express the depth of his regret and remorse at what happened.”