Search

Drink-driver's lucky miss

PUBLISHED: 15:06 22 April 2004 | UPDATED: 04:47 02 March 2010

A DRINK-driver narrowly avoided a major rail accident after smashing through the gates of a level-crossing, a court heard.

Mark Jeffrieswas fiddling with his radio as he broke through the barrier, and the oncoming train on the Lowesoft to London line was only feet away as he sped off – breaking through the opposite gate.

A DRINK-driver narrowly avoided a major rail accident after smashing through the gates of a level-crossing, a court heard.

Mark Jeffrieswas fiddling with his radio as he broke through the barrier, and the oncoming train on the Lowesoft to London line was only feet away as he sped off – breaking through the opposite gate.

Lowestoft magistrates yesterdayheard that the car's number plate broke off as he careered through the second gate and, after it was recovered, police were able to track down the 40-year-old at this home.

The court was told Jeffries was driving home after drinking four pints of lager at a Saxmundham pub when he approached a level crossing by the town's railway station at about 7pm on April 9 this year.

But he did not notice the flashing lights and, by the time the gates had completely their 30-second descent to form a barrier for the railway, he was too close to stop and burst through them – causing £2,000 of damage.

Moments earlier the driver of the train had been told he could pull away from the station by a signalman and had started accelerating on his south-bound journey.

Jeffries admitted drink driving, dangerous driving and endangering the safety of a train.

Tess James, prosecuting, said a dog on the platform had prevented the incident from becoming a tragedy.

"Luckily, as the train driver was pulling out of the station he noticed there was a dog on the platform. He was not sure where it was and didn't pull off as fast as he might otherwise have done," she said.

"As he went forward he saw the driver with his hands clutching the steering wheel and staring straight ahead.

"When the train came to a stop there was 18ft to 20ft between the front of the train and the side of the car," she added.

The court heard police went to Jeffries' home at Meadow Walk, Benhall, near Saxmundham, and a breath sample he gave showed an alcohol level of 82mcgs. The legal limit is 35mcgs.

Paul Roach, mitigating said Jeffries was "deeply remorseful" about the incident.

"It was an oversight that he was over the limit and it was an accident. He went through the first barrier and the second barrier was a panic reaction.

"It could have ended in tragedy, but it didn't," he added.

The case was committed to Ipswich Crown Court for sentencing and Jeffries was given an interim driving ban.


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Ipswich Star. Click the link in the orange box below for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years, through good times and bad, serving as your advocate and trusted source of local information. Our industry is facing testing times, which is why I’m asking for your support. Every single contribution will help us continue to produce award-winning local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Thank you.

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Ipswich Star