Cambridgeshire rail crossing car crash thief jailed

A thief who drove a stolen Mercedes car through a rail crossing barrier seconds before a train passed put "lives at risk", police said.

Terence Fowler showed "total disregard" for the public as he hit 90mph (145kph) to evade officers, police said.

Fowler, 20, of March, Cambridgeshire, admitted dangerous driving in the town and a number of other offences, at Peterborough Crown Court.

He was jailed for three-and-a-half years.

Officers released police-car footage of Fowler's getaway drive between March and nearby Whittlesey in June 2010.

'Ploughed through crossing'

"Fowler refused to pull over and a pursuit ensued... at speeds of more than 90mph," said a police spokesman.

"During the pursuit, Fowler drove on the wrong side of the road, overtook vehicles on roundabouts and knocked off another vehicle's wing mirror.

"Police abandoned the pursuit because it was too dangerous and could only watch as he ploughed through a closed level crossing at King's Dyke with a Cross Country train just seconds away.

"Passengers reported feeling the carriages shudder as the train smashed into the barrier debris moments later."

Police said the car was later found abandoned and Fowler, who was jailed on Thursday, arrested after his blood was found on the smashed windscreen.

Det Insp Michael Branston said: "Fowler showed total disregard for other road users, pedestrians and rail passengers as he tried to evade being caught by police.

"His actions put many lives at risk and he was lucky not to have been killed himself."

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