A RAILWAY gatekeeper who was found in a drunken stupor slumped in his seat while in charge of Europe’s second busiest railway level crossing has been jailed.
Recovering alcoholic Peter Singleton, 29, of Roger Drive, Sandal, had previously pleaded guilty to working at the crossing on Doncaster Road, Crofton, while unfit through drink.
On Tuesday Wakefield Magistrates’ Court heard that Singleton had drunk a two-litre bottle of cider before starting work.
Prosecutor Marie Austin-Walsh said Singleton could not be roused by a colleague who had come to take over from him at around 8.15pm on October 18.
She said a train was waiting farther down the track and the crossing was the second busiest in Europe, with up to 65 trains passing through a day.
Singleton was nearly three times over the legal drink-drive limit but almost eight times over the limit set by strict Network Rail work rules.
Sentencing Singleton to three months, district judge Jonathan Bennett said: “You held a very important and responsible job.
“This was such a gross breach of your duty to the public to take drink there and drink so much that you were unconscious when there were trains on the line.
“The lives of hundreds of people were in your hands.”
The court heard Singleton originally said he had drunk three pints of cider before coming on duty, but later admitted consuming a two-litre bottle of cider while at work.
A breath test at the police station revealed Singleton had 99mcgs of alcohol in 100mls of breath. The legal driving limit is 35mcgs, but Network Rail has its own policy with a 13mcgs limit for staff.
Mitigating, Mike Devlin said that Singleton had battled bulimia, alcohol abuse and suffered brain damage after a seizure that resulted in him “acting impulsively”.
Mr Devlin said Singleton had worked at the crossing since 2004 and was a “recovering alcoholic”.
He said: “He realises the seriousness of what has happened and his breach of duty.”
The court heard Singleton was due to have a disciplinary meeting with his employers today and it “was inevitable he will be dismissed”.