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Driver banned for rail crossing madness

North Shropshire | News | Published:

A man who drove on the wrong side of the road to clear a notorious Shropshire level crossing moments before a packed passenger train whizzed by has been banned from driving for 12 months and fined a total of £1,575. A man who drove on the wrong side of the road to clear a notorious Shropshire level crossing moments before a packed passenger train whizzed by has been banned from driving for 12 months and fined a total of £1,575. Gordon Watkins, of Calverhall, near Whitchurch, overtook another car then raced across Wem level crossing one second before the barriers came down, Market Drayton magistrates were told. The 24-year-old had denied dangerous driving but was found guilty following a trial last week and sentenced yesterday. His conviction follows a major campaign by British Transport Police (BTP) and Network Rail to warn motorists about the dangers of speeding across the crossing - said to be one of the top six most abused in the country.

A man who drove on the wrong side of the road to clear a notorious Shropshire level crossing moments before a packed passenger train whizzed by has been banned from driving for 12 months and fined a total of £1,575.

Gordon Watkins, of Calverhall, near Whitchurch, overtook another car then raced across Wem level crossing one second before the barriers came down, Market Drayton magistrates were told.

The 24-year-old had denied dangerous driving but was found guilty following a trial last week and sentenced yesterday.

His conviction follows a major campaign by British Transport Police (BTP) and Network Rail to warn motorists about the dangers of speeding across the crossing - said to be one of the top six most abused in the country.

The court heard Watkins was driving a burgundy Renault Megane, which darted over the level crossing from the Soulton Road side at 7.46am on September 23, 2009.

Remorse

Despite the warning lights being illuminated, the footage showed Watkins' car overtaking the silver car by crossing a solid white line on to the wrong side of the road before driving over the tracks.

Sentencing Watkins, magistrates said they were satisfied he had shown remorse and now understood the implications of what could have happened.

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They handed Watkins a 12-month driving ban and fined him £960.

He must also pay £600 court costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

Mr John Barnett, prosecuting, said at interview Watkins told police he could not have seen the lights otherwise he would not have gone through the crossing.

Mr Neil Campbell, for Watkins, said his client was of previous good character, had a clean driving licence and was "ashamed" of what he had done.

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Between April 2009 and February 2010, figures showed 122 motorists were caught on camera breaking the law at Wem level crossing.

Sergeant Karl Anderson of BTP said: "If cars are captured flouting the law then we are able to use the images to confirm and corroborate the evidence. It simply is not worth risking."

By Tom Johannsen

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