A drunk railway worker caused £345,000 worth of damage and 15-hour delays to the network after smashing his Range Rover into a speeding train at a level crossing.
Michael Rochford, 27, was warned he could have ‘caused a major catastrophe where many people would have lost their lives’ as he was jailed for 10 months over the crash.
Fortunately, the several passengers injured in the collision walked away with relatively minor whiplash injuries, while a man out in his garden nearby narrowly missed being hit by debris.
Rochford, who worked for Network Rail as a signalling technician, had been drinking with pals at a football club in Rossington, Doncaster, before the incident on June 13.
Shocking footage from a CCTV camera overlooking the crossing shows Rochford’s car mounting the pavement and speeding through the barriers before smashing into the side of the train.
Sheffield Crown Court heard he crawled out of the vehicle and ran off, appearing to bystanders to be unsteady on his feet.
He phoned his mum for a lift and then called the police saying his keys had been swiped from the bar and his car stolen.
Michael Rochford was jailed for 10 months and banned from driving for four years (Picture: SWNS)
A neighbour of his mother’s later reported overhearing Rochford pleading with relatives ‘not to tell anyone where I was’.
But he was quickly rumbled after officers sent to interview him noticed that he ‘seemed nervous’ before a check of the football club’s CCTV showed him driving the Range Rover away.
Rochford admitted lying that it had been stolen and later pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice, dangerous driving and failing to stop following a road traffic accident.
Both the judge and police said the collision could have had ‘catastrophic’ results (Picture: SWNS)
Judge Jeremy Richardson QC, the Recorder of Sheffield, told him: ‘You drank heavily and took leave of your senses.
‘You could have caused a major catastrophe where many people would have lost their lives. It is a very serious case.
‘I accept that you are filled with remorse and I have been invited by your solicitor not to “crush” you.
‘Prison will fall very hard upon you. It is a great tragedy that you find yourself in the position that you are in.’
Speaking after the case, Paul Rutter, route director for Network Rail’s East Coast route, said: ‘This was a shocking incident which could have caused serious injury to passengers and rail workers.
‘Thankfully, this wasn’t the case, but this incident acts as a stark reminder of just how important it is to respect the railway and use level crossings safely.’
Traffic cop Martyn Micklethwaite, from South Yorkshire Police, added: ‘This case highlights the consequences of driving at excess speed.
‘This collision could have ended with catastrophic results.’
Rochford was also banned from driving for four years.
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