Dangerous driver could face jail
DANGEROUS driver Frank Grinham could be facing a jail term after admitting causing a train crash by abandoning a van on a railway line.Grinham, 18, left the white Ford Transit on the track at Baylham, near Needham Market, causing an empty passenger train to smash into it at 9.
DANGEROUS driver Frank Grinham could be facing a jail term after admitting causing a train crash by abandoning a van on a railway line.
Grinham, 18, left the white Ford Transit on the track at Baylham, near Needham Market, causing an empty passenger train to smash into it at 9.20am on August 29.
There was only a driver on board the Anglia Railways train, which was travelling between depots, and no one was hurt in the incident.
But rail services between Norwich and London were disrupted for the rest of the day as the crash was investigated and the wreckage cleared.
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British Transport Police said the number of offences reported on the railways has soared by more than 10 per cent over the past year, with endangering safety charges rising by 53% and obstruction offences going up by 46%. They warned incidents such as this were putting lives at risk and costing millions of pounds.
Unemployed Grinham, of Onslow Gardens, Sanderstead, Surrey, admitted a string of offences relating to the incident, including endangering the safety of people using the railway.
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He appeared before magistrates in Ipswich via a video link yesterdayand pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, driving while disqualified, failing to stop after an accident and fraudulently using a tax disc, as well as the more serious endangering safety charge.
Ian Pells, prosecuting, said Grinham had driven the vehicle on to the level crossing, close to the B1113 road and Baylham House Rare Breeds Farm, where he abandoned it and fled the scene.
Minutes later it was struck by the train, travelling from Norwich to Ipswich at about 40mph, and the line was blocked for more than three hours. The train driver suffered shock but was otherwise unhurt.
Grinham's solicitor, Roger Thomson, said: "This was a single act of foolishness which he regrets now. He realises people could have been killed."
He said his client went to school in Croydon but left without qualifications and he had been living with his parents while claiming job seeker's allowance.
The court heard Grinham had previously been convicted of motoring offences and Mr Thomson asked for sentencing for the new offences to take place at the magistrates' court.
But Bernard Hindes, chairman of the magistrates' bench, opted to send Grinham to the Crown Court to hear his fate. "The bench feels our sentencing powers are not sufficient for a crime of this serious nature," he added.
The maximum penalty Grinham could have been given by the magistrates would have been six months while a judge sitting at Crown Court has unlimited sentencing powers.
A 17-year-old male also appeared before the court and pleaded not guilty to charges of aiding or assisting obstructing the railway and endangering the safety of the railway.
The teenager from Croydon, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had his case adjourned until October 15.