Lorry driver who caused train crash at Whitland level crossing escapes jail term
A LORRY driver who caused a train crash in Whitland when a safety barrier at a crossing came down on his vehicle has avoided a custodial jail term.
The Milford Haven to Manchester service smashed into the lorry and trailer which had stopped on the tracks in December 2011.
Oswald Davies, aged 49, had been behind the wheel, but had got out of the cab to speak to workmen after the safety barrier had come down on his lorry, trapping the vehicle.
The incident cost Network Rail almost £820,000 in repairs, temporary rescheduled routes and providing an alternative bus routes, and twenty six passengers suffered minor injuries, including one who experienced cracked ribs. Hay bails were left scattered all over the track.
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Davies, of Castell Pigyn, Llanboidy, pleaded guilty at Swansea Crown Court to endangering the lives of passengers.
The court was told Davies had driven over the same crossing "dozens, if not hundreds" of times over the years.
But he claimed he did not think the signs warning long-load drivers to call for permission to cross applied to him, despite being in a lorry, which was attached to a trailer with its tail gates down.
He told the court: "I was terrified when it happened, but thankfully no one was killed."
The court was also told Davies had received a fixed penalty notice from police in August 2010 for driving the vehicle, whose trailer can extend and retract, because it was too long.
Judge Keith Thomas sentenced Davies to 37 weeks, suspended for 18 months, and ordered him to carry out 300 hours of community work, and pay £1,200 court costs.
Judge Thomas told him: "It was a hugely frightening experience, particularly for the driver, who acted promptly, conscientiously and quickly to apply the brakes and alert passengers to the imminent collision".