Shropshire Star

HGV driver who crashed into Shropshire level crossing gets three-year road ban

A lorry driver who crashed into a level crossing barrier in a Shropshire village after going through a set of flashing red lights has been spared jail but banned from the road for three years.

The level crossing at Onibury

Andrew Michael Williams, 51, from Northop Road in Flint, had denied a charge of dangerous driving following the incident on the A49 at Onibury on March 10 last year.

He was convicted in his absence at a hearing at Shrewsbury Crown Court last month.

At his sentencing hearing at Telford Magistrates Court on Wednesday, prosecutor Lisa Morris-Jones told magistrates that Williams had been coming from the Craven Arms side of the crossing at around 11.20am on March 10 last year.

She said the signaller on duty at the time saw Williams' HGV and red trailer approach "at speed" after the crossing lights had been flashing red for seven seconds.

"The HGV struck the crossing barrier," she said. "It caused damage to the barrier and no attempt was made to stop."

She continued: "It was a very busy stretch of road and he did not brake whatsoever. It was a deliberate decision to continue driving, a highly dangerous manoeuvre. The speed was in excess of what he should have been driving at."

Under interview following his arrest last year, Williams had said he was new to HGV driving and told officers that he had never come across a level crossing before, whether in his lorry or in any other vehicle.

The court also heard that Williams had 20 previous convictions for 49 offences, although only one was for a driving offence - he was convicted of driving with no insurance in 2014.

Chair of the magistrates bench David Silcock told Williams that his actions, given the size of his vehicle, could have led to "absolute horror".

He banned Williams from driving for 36 months and ordered him to retake his driving test. However, the magistrate spared the 51-year-old jail after imposing a 26-week prison sentence, which he suspended for 12 months.

He said: "This is really serious. The size of the vehicle you were driving put people's lives on the train at risk."

Williams was also ordered to conduct 120 hours of unpaid work and pay costs of £774.