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Fine for retired teacher who caused level crossing crash

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Ipswich Crown Court
Ipswich Crown Court

A retired teacher who caused a crash on a Suffolk level crossing has been fined.

Roger Morris, 74, of Kings Road, Bury St Edmunds, appeared yesterday (March 28) at Ipswich Crown Court.

He had pleaded guilty to endangering the safety of persons on the East Suffolk line at the Bloss level crossing in Deben Way, Melton, near Woodbridge on October 15 last year.

Morris admitted that he had failed to use a lineside telephone to check that it was safe to cross.

Judge John Devaux ordered Morris to pay a £2,000 fine and £2,000 compensation in addition to £600 towards the cost of the prosecution.

Morris has been given six months in which to pay.

The court heard that moments after Morris began to manoeuvre his car across the crossing, the vehicle was struck by a Greater Anglia train travelling at between 30mph and 40mph. The train driver sounded his horn after seeing Morris’s Jaguar car on the crossing but had been unable to avoid an impact.

In the resulting impact Morris suffered a punctured lung and was in a coma for three days. He was also unable to walk for several months while the 28 passengers and crew on the train escaped unhurt.

The collision at the unmanned crossing, which is used to gain access to a boatyard, resulted in an investigation being launched by British Transport Police.

Morris was unfamiliar with the crossing and was visiting a yard on the other side of the line following the relocation of his boat, the court heard, and had not seen a warning on a sign that it was necessary to telephone to obtain permission to drive across the line.

Since the incident additional signs reminding drivers of the need to telephone for permission to cross have been installed.