Page last updated at 15:44 GMT, Monday, 22 February 2010

Jail term for drunk train driver

First Scotrail train
Whitworth admitted driving two trains while under the influence of alcohol

A train driver who drank a bottle of whisky while on duty has been jailed for 135 days.

Richard Whitworth, 33, was three times over the alcohol limit when he was arrested at Glasgow's Queen Street Station in August last year.

The city's Sheriff Court heard how the First Scotrail driver was caught after stumbling out of a staff locker room.

Sheriff Daniel Convery said the case raised "disturbing questions" about the monitoring of train drivers.

At an earlier hearing, Whitworth, from Stenhousemuir, near Falkirk, admitted drinking while working as a train driver - an offence under the Transport and Works Act.

In my view this cases raises profoundly disturbing questions regarding the safety of the public and the arrangements for monitoring the fitness of train drivers
Sheriff Daniel Convery

The court heard how he had bought a bottle of whisky on his way to start work at 1500 GMT on 1 August 2009.

During the course of his shift he drank most of the bottle.

The court was told that, before being caught, Whitworth had caused a delay after falling asleep in the driver's cabin while a train was stopped at Cumbernauld station.

He was allowed to continue with his shift as managers believed he was fit to carry on working.

Whitworth, who has since resigned from his job, was caught after a manager noticed him stumbling out of a locker room as he was making his way to another train.

The manager prevented him from driving the train after becoming concerned about his condition.

Drink test

British Transport Police were called after a drink and drugs screening test revealed that Whitworth was over the limit.

During questioning, Whitworth said he had been drinking since the start of his shift and had driven two trains that day.

Passing sentence, Sheriff Convery said: "You indicated that earlier in your shift you fell asleep in your train cab and that your supervisor considered you fit to finish your shift.

"When you were finally prevented from re-boarding the train you were almost three times over the prescribed limit.

"The potential for death and destruction does not bear thinking about.

"In my view this cases raises profoundly disturbing questions regarding the safety of the public and the arrangements for monitoring the fitness of train drivers."



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