Drunk depot driver sentenced

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Y Ddraig Coch

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To Follow the rules.... here is the story.

https://media.btp.police.uk/r/17006/drunk_train_driver_avoids_jail_after_driving_trai

Drunk train driver avoids jail after driving train into scaffolding at rail depot – Selhurst, south London
A Southern train driver, who was found guilty of being drunk whilst in charge of a train, has been sentenced following a BTP investigation.

Joseph McKeraghan, of Worple Road, London, appeared at Central London Magistrates’ Court on 6 January. He was handed a three month prison sentence, suspended for twelve months, a twelve month driving ban, and he was ordered to pay fines and costs totalling £890.

On 27 December 2018, McKeraghan was driving a train in Southern’s Selhurst depot in south London. At around 4pm, his train collided with scaffolding ladders, which became tangled under the train, jamming the train and causing damage.

The defendant then failed to remain on duty and provide a formal account of what happened, instead he went home skipping the mandatory breath test following an incident such as this. Police officers from BTP then met him at home, where he answered the door holding a bottle of wine.

McKeraghan was arrested and at custody, he blew a reading of 38 microgrammes of alcohol in his breath. A forensic back calculation was completed, due to the time that had passed since the incident, and it was determined McKeraghan would have been two and a half times over the limit when the collision happened.

The defendant was found guilty in his absence during an earlier hearing.

Inspector Dan Tanner from British Transport Police, said: “A train driver is a safety critical role and it is frankly shocking that a driver would put themselves and the other rail staff in that depot in danger by being over the limit. McKeraghan has only himself to blame and I hope he reflects on what was a very poor and dangerous decision to make."
 

duncanp

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I presume he has been sacked by Southern.

The following article gives some more detail.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...ver-59-holding-near-bottle-wine-arrested.html

A depot train driver accused of being drunk when crashing into scaffolding was holding a near-empty bottle of red wine when arrested, a court heard today.

Joseph McKeraghan, 59, from Raynes Park, south west London, crashed at a train depot near Croydon, south London, resulting in a 'loud bang like an air bomb' on December 27 last year.

The Westminster Magistrates Court trial proceeded in his absence today, after magistrates were told that he was unable to attend due to the South Western Railway strike.

McKreghan crashed a shunter train at Selhurst Traincare depot, just half an hour after his shift began at 3.30pm that day.

The site manager, who said he heard a loud bang when scaffolding pipes fell onto the track, added he could smell alcohol on McKeraghan's breath.

After the site was cleared, McKeraghan allegedly went home without permission.

He then bought a bottle of wine from Morrisons and drank nearly all of it before he could be breathalysed after the crash.

An officer later visited his home and arrested McKeraghan for working as a railway driver while unfit due to the influence of drugs of alcohol.

When eventually breathalysed, he was nearly three times over the legal limit for train drivers, the court heard.

McKeragha denies denies the charge against him.

Jennifer Gatland, prosecuting, said: 'His job was to drive trains into marshalling yards and workshops.

'On that day he had been employed for 12 years and he was on duty for the 15.30 to 22:00 shift.

'Declan Crosby, on duty as a fitter, was checking routes for trains to enter the sheds. At the time he was letting the trains in and out safely.

McKreghan crashed a shunter train at Selhurst Traincare depot, just half an hour after his shift began

'He noticed that the seven road was clear. There was nothing in the yellow lines which was normal. If there was something there he would've stopped the train.

'From where he was standing, he saw a gantry that appeared to be a safe position so he let the train in.

'As the train was a six and a half cars through, Mr Crosby heard a loud bang like an explosion.

'When he went to to see what happened, Mr McKeraghan was already on the platform getting the scaffolding out of the way.'

She continued: 'Site manager David Harris arrived on the scene and he will say he smelled alcohol on the defendant's breath.

'There is a standard procedure when there is a collision, he admits he was aware of this in interview, that there's a pre-interview screening for alcohol and that's undertaken by railway management.

'Mr McKeraghan left the site without informing anyone of his whereabouts and then went home and bought a bottle of wine.

'The incident was reported to police. Inspector Tanner went to Mr McKeraghan's home at 8.30pm, four and a half hours after the collision took place, and arrested and took him into custody.

'He gave two specimens of breath, and the lower reading was 38 micrograms.

'Due to the time difference, a back calculation was done to assess what the reading would have been at the time of the collision.

'This was estimated at 32 micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath, two-and-a-half times the legal limit for drivers.

'What the Crown needs to prove is that on the date and location the defendant worked on the railway as a driver while unfit through drink or drugs.

'Unlike in cases with driving a car to excess, this is driving while unfit.

'The Railway Safety and Standards Board has a policy which says train drivers are in an unfit state when their breath exceeds more than 13 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath.'

Mr Crosby, who worked as a railway fitter at the time, said everything was safe when he was letting trains in and out of the shed safely.

He said in a witness statement: 'I saw a flash or a bang that was so loud it sounded like an air bomb.

'I thought a case had gone, but then I saw pipework on the floor.

'Joe was already standing there and trying to remove scaffolding.

'He seemed okay, if annoyed, about the incident.'

David Harris, a site engineer who was acting as team leader that day, first became aware of the incident when he was asked to go to the site with reset keys to turn the power on.

He said: 'There was a not very strong, but a slight smell of alcohol.

'He didn't seem intoxicated, he wasn't slurring, he was very helpful.

'He didn't seem like he was panicking. He was in control of himself.

'I could determine it was him because I'd had conversations with everybody else. You could smell it from just less than three metres away.

'Once we were happy the area was safe, 20 minutes later, he said towards us as a group, ''Right, I'm gonna go wash my hands''. He left and I assumed he was just going to the bathroom to wash his hands. That was my last conversation with him.

'It was only later in the evening that we found out that he had left the site.'

Production leader Ben Farrant said at court he wanted to speak to McKeraghan after the incident to ensure he was breathalysed.

He said: 'It's part of the protocol of our company. After any incident we get them back to the office, check their welfare, and make sure they're ok like if they need hospital treatment. We also check for drugs and alcohol.'

Mr Farrant said he had called British Transport Police as they were concerned for his welfare.

Inspector Michael Tanner went to McKeraghan's home address at around 8.30pm that night.

He said: 'Mr McKeraghan answered the door and he was in full train driver's uniform and was holding a bottle of wine.

'When he opened the door I could smell alcohol on his breath as he was speaking to me. He stayed on his feet.'

During the police interview that night, McKeraghan said he has type two diabetes and had eaten nothing since the collision.

He said he had bought the wine because he was 'stressed out'.

During the interview, Ms Gatland said: 'He was taking a train into the cleaning sheds.

'As he travelled at five miles per hour, he hit a metal gantry on wheels which was too close to the track and his vision was obscured by another metal gantry that was twisted.'

A second no comment interview took place a month later in January.

The trial began two hours after McKeraghan was scheduled to arrive at Westminster Magistrates Court at 9.30am.

Chair Jeffrey Manson said: 'We've made every effort we can to ensure the defendant is here.

'There have been three separate hearings, and he has attended all three.

'He did know it was today's date. He would've been told if he wasn't here the trial would go ahead in his absence. There was contact with lawyers.

'Under the rules we must proceed in his absence. We wish he was here and taken into account the transport difficulties today.'

The trial continues.
 

scrapy

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Anyone any idea if the 12 month ban from driving A train(not that he's likely to get a job) or any vehicle?
 

380101

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Anyone any idea if the 12 month ban from driving A train(not that he's likely to get a job) or any vehicle?
It'll be a 12 month ban on driving cars. Don't think there is any legislation that allows a ban on driving a train. ORR can revoke the European Train Driving License, which is essentially a ban in all but name.
 

Enthusiast

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Anyone any idea if the 12 month ban from driving A train(not that he's likely to get a job) or any vehicle?
I don't know that the court has the power to disqualify somebody from driving a train. However, it does have the power to disqualify from driving (road vehicles) for any offence - not necessarily "motoring" offences. This is usually exercised where driving is a factor in the commission of the offence (e.g. fly tipping or theft of petrol from a petrol station - "bilking"). But it is not an exclusive justification. The Court of Appeal has held that the power is available as part of the overall punitive element of a sentence for any offence.
 

philthetube

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Is there a legal limit for driving a train, I though it was officially nil but as that cannot be guaranteed because of naturally occurring alcohol in the body half that allowed for car driving was allowed.

Not sure that that is in statute though as I have known staff fail both drug and alcohol tests and not be prosecuted.
 

380101

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Is there a legal limit for driving a train, I though it was officially nil but as that cannot be guaranteed because of naturally occurring alcohol in the body half that allowed for car driving was allowed.

Not sure that that is in statute though as I have known staff fail both drug and alcohol tests and not be prosecuted.
13microgrammes per 100ml of breath is the limit for train drivers and is legislation under Section 38(2) (a to c) of the Transport and Works Act 1992 . 35microgrammes for road drivers apart from Scotland where it is 22microgrammes.

Being under the influence of alcohol whilst at work and failing a drugs and alcohol screening does not necessarily mean you have broken the law. I suspect the above legislation is only applicable to safety critical railway staff who are found to be under the influence of alcohol whilst undertaking or attempting to undertake their duties.
 

theironroad

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It'd be interesting to get the full story and how a a train managed to collide with scaffolding ladders in the first place.
 

Dunfanaghy Rd

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13microgrammes per 100ml of breath is the limit for train drivers and is legislation under Section 38(2) (a to c) of the Transport and Works Act 1992 . 35microgrammes for road drivers apart from Scotland where it is 22microgrammes.

Being under the influence of alcohol whilst at work and failing a drugs and alcohol screening does not necessarily mean you have broken the law. I suspect the above legislation is only applicable to safety critical railway staff who are found to be under the influence of alcohol whilst undertaking or attempting to undertake their duties.
My old employer, DB Cargo, as a company ruled that all employees, safety critical or not, were subject to D&A screening. The same sanctions applied, as well: refusal to be tested, as well as failure, led to dismissal. The only way out was that taken by this individual, bale out before the sack.
Pat
 

43066

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Being under the influence of alcohol whilst at work and failing a drugs and alcohol screening does not necessarily mean you have broken the law. I suspect the above legislation is only applicable to safety critical railway staff who are found to be under the influence of alcohol whilst undertaking or attempting to undertake their duties.
I think that’s right.

If a driver or other safety critical member of staff books on under the influence and fails a medscreen, they will face the sack (quite rightly), but no offence will have been committed at that point.

If however they have actually taken charge of a train then matters become a lot more serious. Being “drunk in charge of a train” is a specific criminal offence (Transport and Works Act 1992 IIRC).

This potentially carries a custodial sentence, as handed down in this case (albeit suspended).
 

380101

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My old employer, DB Cargo, as a company ruled that all employees, safety critical or not, were subject to D&A screening. The same sanctions applied, as well: refusal to be tested, as well as failure, led to dismissal. The only way out was that taken by this individual, bale out before the sack.
Pat
It's the same policy within my company when it comes to alcohol and drugs. However policy and legislation are two completely different things.

A driver/Guard/Shunter/Signaller and any other safety critical person working on the railway suspected of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs whilst on duty is breaking the law and can be prosecuted for being so. Failure to provide a specimen when required to do so by a Constable of breath or blood for analysis is also a crime and carries the same, if not more severe, punishment if found guilty.

Failjng to supply a sample under your company's internal procedure is breaching their Drugs and Alcohol policy and would be considered gross misconduct which ultimately leads to dismissal. A person failing a company screening who falls under the Transport and Works Act 1992 will most likely be immediately reported to the British Transport Police if they were carrying out their duties when suspected of being under the influence.
 
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Just to add it might be best to change the thread title. Reading the article it states very clearly he was a DEPOT SHUNTER not a train driver. There is a difference
 

bahnause

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Safe to say he won't find employment as a train driver again.....
Like the rest of the population, alcoholism / drinking can be an issue with train drivers as well. It has to be adressed, not only for safety reasons, but for health reasons as well. The often quoted „Health and safety“ doesn‘t stop with issuing high visibility wests and footwear.

Therefore the approach to this is a bit different in my company. If there is suspicion (and there often is if people don’t decide to just look away) the driver will be assigned an alternative position in the company and therapy until safe to drive again.
 

37057

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It'd be interesting to get the full story and how a a train managed to collide with scaffolding ladders in the first place.
Plenty of objects to get in the way in a depot. The trick is to have a good walk around first and be prepared to stop.
 

Raul_Duke

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Plenty of objects to get in the way in a depot. The trick is to have a good walk around first and be prepared to stop.
Exactly.

Depot moves are the slowest, but also probably the riskiest thing you will do as a driver.

Back on topic, if he was “drunk,” or more likely over the limit from the night before, then **** him. No sympathy. You sign up, you know the rules, it’s not hard.
 

Carlisle

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Like the rest of the population, alcoholism / drinking can be an issue with train drivers as well. It has to be adressed, not only for safety reasons, but for health reasons as well. The often quoted „Health and safety“ doesn‘t stop with issuing high visibility wests and footwear.

Therefore the approach to this is a bit different in my company. If there is suspicion (and there often is if people don’t decide to just look away) the driver will be assigned an alternative position in the company and therapy until safe to drive again.
That’s the way it really should happen, but in my experience on UK railways anyway large pay rises staff like drivers have secured over the last 25 ears have bred a significant change to implied management attitudes
Nowadays that amounts to “I could have thousands apply for your job tomorrow with the pay offered, so it’s very much your own personal responsibility not to mess up.”
Perhaps it’s a wider cultural issue, but that’s another debate.
 
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Andrew Ford

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As a depot driver myself, I have no sympathy with this ‘driver’
Depots movements, although low speed, can be quite stressful. you got other drivers, many signals and routes, into and out of sheds and suicidal carriage cleaners.
As well as coupling and uncoupling all to deal with.
You really need your wits about you sometimes.

To try and do that after having a beer or two? He deserves everything he gets, he’s lucky he didn’t kill anyone.
 

Trackman

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My old employer, DB Cargo, as a company ruled that all employees, safety critical or not, were subject to D&A screening. The same sanctions applied, as well: refusal to be tested, as well as failure, led to dismissal. The only way out was that taken by this individual, bale out before the sack.
Pat
Same at NR, even if you were a cleaner.
 

D365

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13microgrammes per 100ml of breath is the limit for train drivers and is legislation under Section 38(2) (a to c) of the Transport and Works Act 1992 . 35microgrammes for road drivers apart from Scotland where it is 22microgrammes.

Being under the influence of alcohol whilst at work and failing a drugs and alcohol screening does not necessarily mean you have broken the law. I suspect the above legislation is only applicable to safety critical railway staff who are found to be under the influence of alcohol whilst undertaking or attempting to undertake their duties.
My old employer, DB Cargo, as a company ruled that all employees, safety critical or not, were subject to D&A screening. The same sanctions applied, as well: refusal to be tested, as well as failure, led to dismissal. The only way out was that taken by this individual, bale out before the sack.
The same was true at my railway employer; even the non-safety critical office-based staff (engineering or otherwise) were subject to this blanket rule.
 

Clip

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As a depot driver myself, I have no sympathy with this ‘driver’
Depots movements, although low speed, can be quite stressful. you got other drivers, many signals and routes, into and out of sheds and suicidal carriage cleaners.
As well as coupling and uncoupling all to deal with.
You really need your wits about you sometimes.

To try and do that after having a beer or two? He deserves everything he gets, he’s lucky he didn’t kill anyone.
He is lucky he didnt kill anyone, however, for clarity , Alcoholism is an illness and whilst im not using that as an excuse for his behaviour, some of you with your crass posts claiming he 'deserves everything he gets' need to remember that he may have been ill.

And when you start picking on peoples illness then you lose all credibility
 

Islineclear3_1

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A very sad story indeed and thankfully, nobody got hurt.

However to be fair, was it actually known that the driver was drunk whilst shunting the train?

Smelling alcohol from 3 metres away cannot be concrete proof, nor can a "forensic back calculation" estimate be either. And fancy breathalising him after a bottle of wine...of course it's going to prove he was over the limit - but this doesn't prove he was drunk whilst on duty. I smell something fishy going on here

But it doesn't excuse the fact that he went home without reporting the mishap. Yes he's going to be shaken up; who won't be? Also a shame that his career will have come to a sudden end so close to (probable) retirement
 
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talltim

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Years ago my friend had his car (a pride and joy Renault 4!) T-boned and written off at a junction by a driver who came through on a red light. The other driver went into the pub on the corner and had two swift shots of vodka 'to steady his nerve' before the police arrived. They breathalyzed him but of course he was over the limit!
While I suspect that the depot shunter in this case was drunk at the time, breathalyzing after the subject has had a drink after the incident proves nothing.
 

tsr

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It'd be interesting to get the full story and how a a train managed to collide with scaffolding ladders in the first place.
Quite. The implication is a severe lack of care. Some of the shed roads at Selhurst have a very distracting environment around them, but you're travelling at a very slow speed in a straight line once you're past the derailers, and anything like this should be pretty obvious.

Plenty of objects to get in the way in a depot. The trick is to have a good walk around first and be prepared to stop.
You can't necessarily have a good walk around every road at Selhurst before you enter it. In the peaks, you'd bring the place to a grinding halt. It's insanely busy (there's a good reason why the speed limits are higher than other comparable locations!).

Smelling alcohol from 3 metres away cannot be concrete proof
I agree (I reckon I sometimes smell of alcohol after using some types of hand cleanser, but I wouldn't ever have an alcoholic drink before or at work). However, smelling of alcohol has led to proceedings which have been the downfall of more than one member of railway staff, so it's usually best to act on it. It would be poor practice to dissuade people by saying it wasn't relevant to the case.
 

Raul_Duke

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He is lucky he didnt kill anyone, however, for clarity , Alcoholism is an illness and whilst im not using that as an excuse for his behaviour, some of you with your crass posts claiming he 'deserves everything he gets' need to remember that he may have been ill.

And when you start picking on peoples illness then you lose all credibility
No. You take on a responsible job where you can kill people. In a Depot you’ve got possibly the best chance of accidentally killing someone on the railway.

And when he killed someone through his illness presumably you’d go to their grieving family and tell them that it’s less of a big deal because he was ill?

What if a driver is diagnosed with a heart condition, decides not to tell their employer and then dies while driving at 125?

TPWS + DSD might not stop you in time. Would that be ok because it’s an illness?

Its not an office job, people can and will die if you can’t focus. And it probably won’t be the person who’s having a six pack on the way to work, for whatever reason.
 
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