Man who pushed bin on Hampshire railway line is jailed

Image caption,
Network Rail engineers had to remove the bin from under the freight train

One of two men who bundled a steel wheelie bin on to a Hampshire railway line, which was later hit by a train travelling at 55mph, has been jailed.

The incident at Liphook sparked long delays for football fans travelling to London for the Portsmouth versus Chelsea FA Cup final in May last year.

CCTV caught Ashley Keatings, 20, and Jacob Kirby pushing the bin on to the tracks, Winchester Crown Court heard.

Kirby, 20, was jailed for 10 months but Keatings' sentence was adjourned.

Keatings, of Hillbrow Road, Liss, and Kirby, of Station Road, Liss, were arrested a few days later following a public appeal.

The pair pleaded guilty to endangering safety at an earlier hearing.

Sparks flying

British Transport Police said CCTV footage captured the pair pushing the industrial-sized bin on to the station platform at 0135 BST on 15 May before Kirby pushed it down on to the tracks.

About five minutes later the steel bin was struck by a 55mph DB Schenker-operated freight train, sending sparks flying 4ft into the air, damaging the tracks and leaving a half-mile trail of rubbish and scattered debris.

The impact did not damage the train but meant Network Rail engineers had to attend to remove the bin, which had become twisted and entangled underneath, the court heard.

The cost for DB Schenker in terms of delays and disruption to services, the mobilisation of a recovery team and the examination of the locomotive was estimated at more than £20,000.

The incident also saw services in the area grind to a complete halt until 0800 BST, costing Network Rail £5,000.

Judge Guy Boney QC told the pair: "This incident could have resulted in the significant loss of life had the train passing through been a passenger service."

Speaking after the sentencing, British Transport Police's Det Con Phil Bibbings said: "This was an utterly thoughtless act of vandalism that could have had far worse consequences and we welcome the sentences handed down."

Keatings will return to court for sentence, pending medical reports, on 25 March.

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