Page last updated at 12:44 GMT, Friday, 12 September 2008 13:44 UK

Driver 'watched TV show' at wheel

A lorry driver accused of watching a cult television show at the wheel on the M6 in Cumbria has had his bid to change his guilty plea rejected.

Police claim Benjamin Trotsman veered across the road while watching an episode of 1970s sci-fi show Battlestar Galactica on a laptop computer.

The 37-year-old, of Bridgnorth, Shropshire, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving on 22 August.

His attempt to enter a not guilty plea was turned down by magistrates.

Trotsman's solicitor told Penrith Magistrates' Court that his client was actually looking at Google Maps on the laptop.

'Erratic manner'

He had felt pressured to enter a guilty plea "in the heat of the moment" after being advised by another solicitor, the court heard.

He was spotted driving erratically over a 25-mile stretch of the M6 in the early hours of 11 December last year.

A Cumbria Police spokesman, speaking outside the hearing, said: "The driver was seen to be watching a film on a laptop computer that was situated on the dashboard in his cab.

"He appeared oblivious to other motorists, and continued to drive in an erratic manner, speeding up and slowing down, and crossing on occasions on to the hard shoulder.

"This continued from the Kendal area to where the motorway passes Penrith."

He said officers examined the laptop and found that Trotsman, of The Hobbins, appeared to have been watching episodes of Battlestar Galactica.

Presiding magistrate Nick Swinscoe said he was satisfied that Trotsman understood the consequences of pleading guilty and rejected the new application.

He will now be sentenced at Penrith Magistrates' Court on 3 October.

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