Watch shocking footage of convicted drink-driver’s unsafe rail line crossing while banned
- Credit: Archant
A motorist who came within one second of being struck by a freight train after he ignored warning lights on a level crossing has been jailed for 12 months.
The driver of the freight train, which was pulling 32 wagons and travelling at 55mph, was approaching Routs crossing at Purdis Farm, between Westerfield and Felixstowe, when he saw a car driven by Giedrius Puisys cross the line immediately in front of him, Ipswich Crown Court heard.
“It happened so fast and he was so close to the crossing that the driver didn’t have time to sound a warning,” said Michael Crimp, prosecuting.
Puisys, 38, of Camden Road, Ipswich, admitted endangering safety on a railway and driving while disqualified on February 2.
He also admitted breaching a 12 week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, imposed last February for drink driving.
He was jailed for 12 months and banned from driving for three years.
Sentencing Puisys, Recorder Ian Evans said the train driver estimated he was “only one second away” from colliding with his car.
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“You crossed notwithstanding the warnings as the train was approaching. This was an extremely dangerous course of action on your part, which could have had unimaginable consequences, not only for you but for the train driver and anyone in the vicinity of a careering train. These actions were compounded by the fact that you were a banned driver,” said the judge.
The court heard that the defendant had convictions for drink driving and driving while disqualified in 2008, and had also been given a suspended prison sentence in February last year for a further offence of drink driving.
Mr Crimp told the court that road users could open the gate at the crossing by pressing a button and there were red flashing lights and an audible warning when a train was approaching.
Roger Thomson, for Puisys, said his client’s driving had clearly been dangerous, but he had not intended to endanger anyone.
“Fortunately no-one was hurt and there was no damage,” said Mr Thomson.
He said the offence in February took place three weeks before the suspended prison sentence imposed last February came to an end – and he had completed the unpaid work part of that sentence.
He said Puisys had been taking the car to a garage when he went over the crossing.
Inspector Steve Webster, from British Transport Police, said: “Frankly, Puisys is incredibly lucky to be alive, we estimate he was one second away from being struck by the train.
“The freight train was travelling at speed, and with an estimated weight of 1,600 tonnes, would never be able to brake in time.
“Puisys failed to read and obey the instructions at the crossing, he put his life and the life of others in grave danger.
“I thoroughly welcome the custodial sentence handed by the judge. This should send a very clear message to other road users, never disobey the safety processes in place at level crossing, they are there to keep you safe.”
Rupert Lown, Network Rail’s director of safety for Anglia, said: “This was absolutely reckless behaviour by the driver who only narrowly escaped with his life.
“This is a very busy line with over 60 freight trains a day in addition to passenger services. He was incredibly lucky, the consequences of his actions could have been very different.”