A motorist who almost caused a horrific level-crossing accident has been given a suspended jail sentence.
Father-of-three Jawad Hassan, 32, tried to jump the red lights at the unmanned automated railway crossing at Kildwick, North Yorkshire, but ended up getting stuck on the track between the barriers.
A judge at Bradford Crown Court yesterday watched CCTV footage which showed elderly people and children getting out of the stranded Seat Alhambra people carrier.
Recorder Michael Smith described it as a scene of panic and chaos and said Hassan and his family members were lucky that another motorist had pulled up at the barriers.
The other driver helped some of the elderly passengers and told Hassan to drive his vehicle off the crossing through the closed barrier.
Hassan, of Lister View, Bradford, managed to drive off the tracks before a train came through, but in doing so he caused just over £2,000 of damage to the barriers.
Bradford Crown Court heard that unemployed Hassan, who had a clean licence, reported the incident to the police last August and at a previous court hearing admitted dangerous driving.
Barrister Khadim Al Hassan, representing Hassan, said he was otherwise a very responsible individual and it had been a momentary lapse.
“He had never experienced anything like this in his life before,” said Mr Al Hassan.
He said the defendant was travelling to see other family members and it was not a route he ordinarily used.
Recorder Smith said the people carrier contained five or six people including youngsters and the elderly. “It seems clear to me from the video that for the sake of a minute or so waiting you decided to jump the lights and the barrier,” the judge told Hassan via an interpreter.
“You drove onto the crossing. It’s also clear from the video you then panicked and stopped in the middle of the crossing. Everybody got out of the vehicle. There was both panic and chaos.
“The consequences of your actions could have been horrific had a train come along and hit the vehicle.
“I am sure you are aware there are regular adverts on television warning of the dangers of trying to beat the lights at level crossings.
“Sadly a number of people die in such accidents.”
The judge said Hassan’s behaviour meant a prison sentence was justified, but he was persuaded to take a merciful course in suspending the nine-month sentence for a year.
Hassan will have to do 150 hours unpaid work for the community and he must take an extended driving test at the end of an 18-month driving ban.
Recorder Smith said Hassan had caused expense for the railway network, but his financial circumstances meant it was not possible to make any order for compensation or costs against him.