Man told off for smoking at Preston station runs away down railway line chased by the police helicopter

A man who fled along a busy railway track when told off for smoking on the platform left train operators more than £111,000 out of pocket.

By Nicola Adam
Wednesday, 27th November 2019, 5:00 pm
Updated Wednesday, 27th November 2019, 5:14 pm
Preston Railway Station
Preston Railway Station

Darren Rowley was told to stop smoking by an official at Preston station but his unexpected reaction was to jump onto the track and run off.

He disappeared from sight and all the trains had be halted while British Transport Police began a detailed search operation for him.

A court heard today (Wed) that when he could not be found a police helicopter was called in to help track him down and eventually two hours later the 53-year-old was found hiding.

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Ken Grant, prosecuting, said that it took six police officers to restrain and escort him off the track.

He said: “He was shouting, ‘Help me, they are stitching me up’.

“They managed to get him to the platform and he began to calm down.

The police obtained a wheelchair to take him to the front of the station to wait for an ambulance.”

Liverpool Crown Court heard that the incident, which began at 8.10 pm on March 12 last year, cost train operators a total of £111,483 including compensation payouts to passengers whose trains were cancelled or delayed.

Rowley, of Prescot Road, St Helens, pleaded guilty to obstructing an engine carriage using the railway by an unlawful act.

Under the 1861 legislation he faced a maximum of two years imprisonment “with or without hard labour.”

Rowley, who has previous convictions mainly for dishonesty, represented himself in court and apologised for his behaviour and told Judge Brian Cummings, QC, that he would never be seen in court again.

He was given an eight month prison sentence suspended for 18 months and ordered to carry out 240 hours unpaid work and 15 days rehabilitation activities.