Pensioner fined for obscuring rail signs

A 71-YEAR-OLD man put lives in danger at a railway crossing by deliberately turning round important information signs, a court has heard.

Russell Claydon

A 71-YEAR-OLD man put lives in danger at a railway crossing by deliberately turning round important information signs, a court has heard.

David Price, of Brick Kiln Lane, Melton, acted on his frustration with Network Rail by obscuring their vital crossing instructions telling people to phone to check they have time to get over the tracks.

The pensioner was fined �450 for interfering with a railway and level crossing and made to pay �43 costs and a �15 victim surcharge at South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court in Ipswich yesterday.

Two other allegations of criminal damage at Ellingers level crossing in Melton, by his home, involving cutting telephone cables at the site, were dropped due to insufficient evidence.

Price pleaded guilty to endangering the safety of people on the railway on September 9 last year after he turned around the warning signs. They exist due to a sharp bend meaning people driving through might not hear an oncoming train.

Most Read

PC Dan Garnham, of British Transport Police, who was the officer in charge of the case, said after the hearing: “It was a highly dangerous thing to do.

“The warning sign is there for a reason and anyone who used it after he did that would not be able to use it correctly and in the worse case scenario they could have been hit by a train.”

Stephen Coleman, for the prosecution, said CCTV captured him approaching the signs at 2.29pm, turning them around so they were no longer facing up the road.

He said: “Potentially someone could be put at risk because they could not be aware of the need to phone about whether to cross.”

Michael Stephenson, for Price, said his client was probably the most frequent user of the crossing and his actions were partly borne out of a frustration at communication issues. He also said Price believed the sign stuck out and made it difficult for him to get by when he was driving a tractor.

“He is prepared to accept the sign is there for a reason of safety,” Mr Stephenson said.

Chairman of the Bench, Peter Page, told Price: “What was on your mind when you did this was anyone's guess. Your assertion that the sign was obscuring the road was clearly nonsense.”

He added: “I hope you understand the gravity of what you did. The sign was there to keep people safe, people like yourself, that use this crossing. It is quite beyond us how you could be minded to turn this around and put lives in danger.”