'Suicidal' crash driver changed his mind

A MOTORIST who nearly caused a major collision after driving under level crossing gates moments before a train arrived has been given a suspended prison sentence.

A MOTORIST who nearly caused a major collision after driving under level crossing gates moments before a train arrived has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Richard Waring was feeling suicidal when he drove his Land Rover Discovery onto a crossing near Kelvedon in February this year, Chelmsford Crown Court heard yesterday.

But the architect, formerly of Benton Street, Hadleigh, changed his mind at the last moment and smashed through the gates - damaging the barriers as he got his four-by-four vehicle off the track.

The 57-year-old pleaded guilty last month to causing criminal damage totalling �1,400 for the replacement of the barriers.

Jane Oldfield, prosecuting, said she would also be applying for �17,600 compensation including the cost of two hours delay to trains while the crossing was repaired.

Waring was yesterday sentenced to a suspended 12-month prison term, and placed on a 12-month supervision order and told to complete 80 hours of community punishment.

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However, he escaped having to pay compensation.

The court had earlier heard how Waring stopped on the tracks, but “happily changed his mind” before crashing through the barrier to get out.

The drama, which happened just after 4pm on February 16, followed an incident with Waring and his estranged wife Diana Jones, in Hadleigh.

He was convicted of criminal damage after he smashed a front door in an attempt to see her.

When Waring drove onto the mainline, police said frantic onlookers rang 999 to report what appeared to be a “suicidal driver” on the tracks with a train “just moments away”.

The Kelvedon incident set off a sensor in the barrier which immediately alerted Network Rail.

Workers were then sent to the site and spent about 40 minutes placing the barrier back on its hinges.

Trains on the mainline into London were slowed to ensure the safety of engineers and it was reported at the time that there were “no significant delays”.