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Driver who jumped red lights at level crossing was ‘in a rush’, court told

Westerfield level crossing  Picture: GREGG BROWN

Westerfield level crossing Picture: GREGG BROWN

An impatient driver has been handed six penalty points for jumping the red lights of a Suffolk level crossing as barriers began to descend.

Westerfield level crossing  Picture: GREGG BROWNWesterfield level crossing Picture: GREGG BROWN

Samuel Morris was in a rush to hand his employer an appeal letter when he ignored signals to stop at the Westerfield level crossing, near Ipswich, on August 16.

At Suffolk Magistrates’ Court on Monday, the 20-year-old admitted driving a Seat Leon without due care and attention.

Prosecutor Wayne Ablett said Morris, of Greenways, in Sutton Heath, near Woodbridge, drove across the rail line as barriers began to descend after red lights had signalled traffic to stop for six-and-a-half seconds.

The manoeuvre was caught on CCTV and notice of intended prosecution sent to the home address of the registered driver, Morris, who wrote back to confirm he was behind the wheel.

Due to receiving a fixed penalty notice and three points on his licence for speeding last August, Morris was deemed unsuitable for a driver awareness course and prosecuted by the British Transport Police.

Mr Ablett said Morris had put himself and other road users in potential danger by disregarding the law.

Representing himself in court, Morris told magistrates he would not usually have driven along Westerfield Road but was in a hurry to drop off an employment appeal letter on deadline day.

“I’m really sorry,” he added.

“I jeopardised my life, and my freedom, because I need my car for work.

“I was in a rush.”

Morris was handed six penalty points and warned any further driving offences would put him in “disqualification territory”.

He was ordered to pay a £200 fine, £85 towards costs and a £30 statutory fee towards victim services.

Last year, 49 prosecutions were launched against drivers skipping red lights at the same crossing.

More than 500 offences relating to level crossings were investigated in the Anglia region.

Network Rail’s head of safety, Richard Tew said there was a lack of knowledge around the dangers.

Prosecutions can be brought for entering the crossing while lights are flashing, remaining in a yellow box on the crossing, overtaking on double white line systems, performing dangerous manoeuvres over crossings or failing to follow instructions at user operated crossings.

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