Runaway drunk cost rail chiefs £79,000

David Dooner
David Dooner
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A DRUNK man who ran onto a railway line cost Network Rail £79,000 after trains had to be stopped as police searched for him.

David Dooner was almost struck by a high-speed train after he jumped onto the tracks following an angry bust-up with his brother.

Dooner was eventually tracked down by a police dog handler after he had disappeared along the line into the darkness at Wallyford train station, East Lothian, earlier this year.

A sheriff slammed the 34-year-old for jumping onto the tracks as he could have “caused great harm to the driver” who would have had to deal with the potentially deadly aftermath.

Depute fiscal Brent Bissett told Haddington Sheriff Court on Wednesday that Dooner had been involved in a drunken argument with his brother on the platform of the station at around 11pm before he landed on the rail track.

Mr Bissett said: “He then ran on to the railway line and into the darkness and a request was sent to Network Rail immediately to put a stop on the line.

“Shortly after running on to the line a high-speed train narrowly missed him. A stop was put on the line and an extensive search was carried out.

“He was subsequently traced and began shouting and swearing at police officers – he was traced near to Musselburgh train station with the assistance of a dog handler.”

Mr Bissett added Dooner’s actions that night cost Network Rail a massive £79,000 after the company had to stop trains heading along the track for around an hour.

Solicitor Ross Porter said his client had suffered “traumatic events in his childhood” and was now trying to deal with an alcohol problem by attending counselling sessions.

Mr Porter added: “Mr Dooner is aware of the consequences of his actions, the danger to himself and the cost.”

Dooner pleaded guilty to conducting himself in a disorderly manner, shout and swear, run on to the railway tracks in the face of an oncoming train and commit a breach of the peace at Musselburgh train station on June 4.

Sheriff Peter Anderson said: “This was potentially extremely harmful to many people on a railway train as the train could have had to take emergency action to deal with your situation.

“If you had succeeded in putting yourself in front of a train this could have caused great harm to the driver of the train who would have had to deal with the consequences of such an accident.”

Sheriff Anderson ordered Dooner, from Musselburgh, to be placed on a nine-month supervision order and to carry out 120 hours of unpaid work.

A Network Rail spokesperson said: “Trespassing on railway lines is extremely dangerous and potentially lethal. Anyone caught trespassing on railway infrastructure will be prosecuted.”

The spokesperson confirmed passenger and service trains were held up for around an hour during the incident, and that the rail operator would be liable to pay train companies compensation for any hold up to their vehicles.