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Last Updated: Friday, 15 December 2006, 13:37 GMT
Man fell asleep on railway line
Kevin Craswell, 48, asleep on a railway track (British Transport Police/PA)
Craswell was found sleeping with his head on the railway track

A drunk man who passed out across railway tracks has been fined 560 and given 180 hours' community service.

Kevin Craswell used the track as a pillow and had his feet inches from the live rail at Epsom, Surrey.

Trains were disrupted and police filmed the former company director, 48, from a helicopter as he slept in March.

Neither the sound of the helicopter nor passing trains could wake Craswell, of Ashtead, Surrey, who admitted obstructing the railway by neglect.

Redhill magistrates heard a train went past Craswell's head, but he did not wake up.

'No harm intended'

Craswell was taken to hospital after the incident on 3 March, and it was found he had consumed a potentially lethal amount of alcohol and was suffering from hypothermia.

He had faced up to six months in prison when he appeared in court.

But magistrate Ron Fewtrell said although he was aware of the potential risk to rail users, he did not believe Craswell intended to harm people.

I've never seen anything like it
PC Keith Board

Craswell, now a recovering alcoholic who lives with his elderly parents, told the court he was ashamed of his conduct and deeply sorry.

Defending, Philip Longes, said Craswell had no memory of what happened.

The court heard staff had to switch off power and thousands of people on four routes were affected by delays.

Pc Keith Board, of British Transport Police, said: "I've never seen anything like it in all my years of policing.

"It was truly remarkable that he wasn't struck by a train or fatally electrocuted.

"The position he collapsed in meant his feet were only a short distance from the live rail."

Call for barriers

He added: "In total, four railway lines were impacted, costing almost 8,000 in delays.

"Trains had to stop running and the power was turned off so that police and emergency crews could safely get to him."

After the hearing, Craswell's father, who declined to be named, said there should have been barriers to prevent his son from getting on to the railway line.

Pc Graham Cottington said it was not practical to fence off every stretch of railway, and added emergency services needed to have access to the tracks.

He said staff had been "astounded" at what happened, adding: "If he had touched that live rail, he would certainly have died."

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