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Rail executive's future in balance

PUBLISHED: 17:30 14 October 2001 | UPDATED: 10:40 03 March 2010

THE future job prospects for Mark Pickersgill hangs in the balance today.

For the Anglia Railways director has escaped a prison sentence following a road rage in incident in which he punched another driver.

THE future job prospects for Mark Pickersgill hangs in the balance today.

For the Anglia Railways director has escaped a prison sentence following a road rage in incident in which he punched another driver. Instead the 40-year-old was given a 120 hour community punishment order.

Now officials from his company are due to meet to decide his position within the organisation.

A spokesman for Anglia Railways said today that the board would be considering his future over the next few days.

Peter Meades, the company's public relations officer, said: "He has been on leave since his first appearance in court and he remains on paid leave following the outcome of yesterday's court appearance and sentencing.

"The next step is for Anglia Railways to discuss his future."

Pickersgill had been living with the prospect of a custodial sentence since September 19 when he pleaded guilty to a charge of common assault on retired policeman Raymond White.

However, yesterday at Ipswich Crown Court Recorder Jeremy Richards said that while custody was justified, Pickersgill would instead be sentenced to a 120 hour community punishment order.

Pickersgill, of Burrell Road, Ipswich, faced the courts following a road rage incident at the junction of London Road and Hadleigh Road on February 17.

The court was told that the operations director of Anglia Railways had been heading into Ipswich along London Road in his convertible BMW at about 2pm. His young son and two women were with him.

He had passed the traffic lights outside the Posthouse Hotel in the near side lane of the dual carriageway but as he approached the spot where this lane filters into the off side lane he found himself unable to do so because of a Mercedes, being driven by Mr White.

Caroline Bryant, prosecuting, said there was an exchange of words and gestures between the two men through their car windows before Pickersgill sped up to undertake Mr White and continue his journey.

However, she said traffic came to a stop at the traffic lights at the junction with Hadleigh Road with Mr White's Mercedes pulling up behind Pickersgill's BMW.

She said: "The defendant got out of his car, approached the Mercedes, opened the driver's door, swore at Mr White and punched him twice in the body. He slammed the door shut and returned to his car."

Mr White later went to hospital and although there was no permanent or serious injury, his chest was tender as a result of the assault, she added.

The court was told that Pickersgill, who has worked in the rail industry for 23 years and started as an apprentice engineer, was made a company director in November last year.

Colin Nicholls QC, mitigating, said that at the time of the assault Pickersgill was under stress at work due to the impact of the Hatfield crash on the industry and that, despite the promotion, was also continuing in his previous role as manager of Crown Point depot in Norwich.

Mr Nicholls said: "He was under stress and although he may not have been aware of the effect on him at the time he is aware of it now."

He added that Pickersgill, who had offered his resignation on April 4, had not displayed this kind of behaviour before and said: "There is no question of him ever having lost control with any people at work. This shows the isolation of his conduct."

Tim Clarke, Anglia Railways managing director, spoke highly of Pickersgill in court and in a letter of reference.

He said Pickersgill had "handled himself extremely well" during the aftermath of the Hatfield crash and added: "The business was extremely demanding. Literally he would find himself working with others on locomotives through to meeting staff and customers as well as helping develop a way to move the company forward."

Sentencing Pickersgill Mr Richards described the assault as "inexcusable and incomprehensible".

He said: "Frankly it was little short of outrageous behaviour and a shameful example to your young son.

"This case is so serious that a custodial penalty is fully justified and many would say is richly deserved."

However, he referred to the assault as "completely out of character and an isolated incident" and sentenced him to a 120 hour community punishment order.

Pickersgill was also ordered to pay £714 court costs and £250 in compensation to Mr White.

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