Train driver who was over alcohol limit when he ran red signal avoids jail

A train driver who was caught over the alcohol limit when he went through a red signal at one of the Britain’s busiest railway stations has been spared jail.

Ian Pickering, 56, endangered the lives of passengers by going through a red light at Birmingham New Street following a boozy night out on December 30 last year.

He was later sacked by Arriva UK after providing a reading to police of 54 microgrammes in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35 microgrammes.

Pickering, of Earl Shilton, Leics., previously admitted endangering the safety of persons conveyed on the railway and being a transport worker whose alcohol limit was over the limit.

But he avoided being jailed after being sentenced to an 18 month community order and ordered to pay £425 costs at Birmingham Crown Court.

Sentencing, Judge Simon Drew KC said ‘As a train driver of 30 years experience you know the enormous level of trust that is placed in you as a train driver by members of the public.

‘They are in your hands. That is why it is extremely important that you as a train driver should not merely act with due care and diligence but go the extra mile.

‘On December 30 you endangered their safety not merely by driving through a red light but you did so when you were significantly over the legal limit as far as alcohol is concerned.’

‘You went through a red light but realised and pulled up.

‘It is also important you did not try to cover up and immediately reported what had happened.

‘Although there was potential for great harm it was significantly alleviated by your own actions.’

‘He said he had also taken into account he had care of elderly parents, that it was a “one off” and that he had expressed remorse.’

Lee Egan, prosecuting, said ‘The defendant was a train driver employed by Arriva UK.

‘On December 30 2022 he failed to stop at a red signal while driving a train.

‘As a consequence he was breathalysed by his employer at Birmingham New Street Station.

‘The police were summonsed and he took a more formal breathalyser procedure.

‘He was interviewed and said he had gone out in the evening drinking three pints followed by a couple of cans. He stopped drinking at 1am.

‘He started working at 4pm. He was breathalysed at 10pm that evening.

‘Passing through a red light of itself would not be considered to be particularly dangerous but to do so in circumstances where he was intoxicated and may have failed to respond to a further warning put passengers at risk.’

Robert Ward, defending, said ‘He has been a train driver for three decades and in that time would have faced alcohol testing on a regular basis often at random.

‘It is out of character for him. It is the case that he was drinking more than he typically would in the seven day period running up to Christmas.

‘He is never going to be driving a train again. That is clear from an offence of this type and in that sense the public are not going to be put at risk again by Pickering.’

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