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Sunday, 21 December 2014

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Van driver cleared of Cumbria level crossing charge

A CO-OP cash collector has been cleared after being accused of driving across a level crossing in Cumbria as the warning stop lights flashed.

50045203B009
Level Crossing in Askam. LINDSEY DICKINGS REF: 50045203B009

Paul Burke denied one charge of driving without due care of attention when he appeared before Furness Magistrates’ Court on Monday February 17.

Ms Vicky Agullo, prosecuting, told how at 8.11am on July 19 2013 Askam signal box operator Alec Cowshill claimed he saw a vehicle drive over the crossing.

Giving evidence during the 30-minute trial, he said: “A white car drove over even though the lights were flashing and the barrier was due to go down.

“It was coming from Ireleth Road. It then pulled up by the bus stop and stopped.”

Defending himself, Mr Burke cross-examined the witness.

He asked him: “You saw a car going over the level crossing and not a van?”

Mr Cowshill said: “I just noted the number.”

Mr Burke responded: “There is a big difference between a car and a van.”

The witness answered: “I was operating the crossing so I was concentrating on that.”

Taking the stand himself, Mr Burke said: “I have worked for the Co-op for nine years and I collect money from Askam Co-op twice a week and use that level crossing a lot. I would never put my own or anyone else’s safety at risk. The incident simply did not occur. It is a totally false allegation. I did go through the crossing but there were no lights flashing at that time. I also did not stop at the bus stop as we are not allowed to. There are three CCTV cameras which are monitored.

“He has seen another vehicle do this but then taken my registration.”

He added that he had been driving a large van, not a car which had large initials on the side and would have stood out.

After 10 minutes of deliberation, the magistrates returned and said they were satisfied beyond all responsible doubt that Mr Burke had not committed the crime.

They said the van was large enough to not have been mistaken for a white car.

The defendant was awarded £50 costs for the traveling from his home in Yew Tree Lane, Dukinfield, Greater Manchester.

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