Driver causes £4,000 of damage to barrier
A man who smashed a level crossing barrier on a crossing near Raynes Park station has been disqualified from driving for four years and handed a six-month suspended prison sentence.
David Morley, aged 25, of Farley Road, South Croydon, appeared at Blackfriars Crown Court on Tuesday (January 25) after pleading guilty to dangerous driving and failing to report an accident.
The incident took place less than 30 seconds before a train was due through the crossing. It caused £4,000 worth of damage (see right) and cost Network Rail £6,000 in delays.
Morley was also given a six-month curfew, requiring him to remain at home between 9pm and 7am and ordered to carry out 250 hours' unpaid work.
He will also pay more than £4,200 compensation to Network Rail for the damage and train delays caused, as well as £500 in court costs.
The court heard the incident took place around 9.20am on Thursday August 26, 2010 as Morley approached the level crossing on West Barnes Lane in a Ford Transit van.
Despite the warning lights flashing and siren sounding as the barriers began to descend, Morley drove through the crossing, causing the barrier to become entangled with his vehicle's roof rack.
The collision tore the barrier from its mountings and it was left laying on the track.
Morley continued through the crossing and stopped around 100 metres down the road to inspect the damage to his vehicle before driving away.
But his actions were witnessed by a member of the public, who noted his vehicle registration number and informed police. He was later identified as the driver and was arrested.
Repairing the damaged barrier cost Network Rail more than £4,200, while there were around three hours of delays affecting 31 trains, costing £6,000. West Barnes Lane was also closed, and then partially closed, until 6pm, severely delaying drivers.
PC Chris Shepherd, the investigating officer from British Transport Police, said: "I would like to pass my thanks to the eagle-eyed member of the public who witnessed and reported the incident, as it was with their help that we were able to identify Morley as being responsible.
"Morley’s actions were reckless and dangerous, not least considering he collided with the barrier fewer than 30 seconds before a train was due to pass through.
"We are working closely with Network Rail to improve people’s knowledge and take action against those who continue to misuse crossings. Drivers who willingly flout the law and place themselves and others in danger should be in no doubt that if caught doing so, they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
Ellie Reilly, community safety manager at Network Rail, said: "Level crossing misuse is a serious offence. It risks lives, causes huge disruption for passengers and motorists, and costs the rail industry millions of pounds every year.
"We welcome the sentence handed down in this case and hope people take notice that this sort of irresponsible behaviour could have severe consequences for them."
January 27, 2011