Man Jailed Over Bin On Train Line

Two men who shoved a steel wheelie bin on to a rail line in Hampshire shortly before it was struck by a 55mph freight train have appeared in court.

The incident in Liphook, Hampshire, last May delayed Portsmouth FC fans travelling to London's Wembley stadium for the 2010 FA Cup Final against Chelsea.

Ashley Keatings and Jacob, Kirby both 20 and both of Liss, Hants, appeared for sentencing at Winchester Crown Court after pleading guilty to endangering safety at an earlier hearing.

Kirby was sentenced to 10 months in prison. Keatings will return to court on Friday, March 25 for sentence pending medical reports.

British transport Police said CCTV footage captured the pair manhandling the industrial-sized bin on to the station platform around 1.35am on May 15, before Kirby shoved it down on to the tracks.

Around 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 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 over £20,000.

The incident also saw services in the area grind to a complete halt until 8am, costing Network Rail £5,000.

Passengers using the line were delayed, including thousands of Portsmouth fans trying to make their way to the FA Cup Final.

British Transport Police detectives arrested Keatings and Kirby just days later.

Speaking after the sentencing, BTP Detective Constable Phil Bibbings said:

"Keatings and Kirby's actions were completely reckless and I cannot stress enough the dangers associated with what they did.

"Thankfully this time, through sheer luck, no one was injured, the train was undamaged and it remained on the tracks, but we may not be so fortunate if this happens again.

"This was an utterly thoughtless act of vandalism that could have had far worse consequences and we welcome the sentences handed down.''

Judge Guy Boney QC told the pair it was only by pure chance that this was a heavy freight train;

"This incident could have resulted in the significant loss of life had the train passing through been a passenger service.

"This sort of behaviour has to be curtailed to deter others, and this is why I have passed a custodial sentence.''