A father-of-three from Bradford was today banned from driving for 18 months after he tried to run a red light and got his vehicle trapped between barriers at a level crossing, sparking scenes of “panic and chaos” as a train approached.
Today Jawad Hassan, who has three young children, was sentenced for driving dangerously at the busy crossing on Saturday, August 20, last year.
Bradford Crown Court heard how a family outing to visit relatives turned to “panic and chaos” when Hassan, 32, of Lister View, Manningham, Bradford, tried to run the red flashing lights at 2.14pm in his full people carrier.
CCTV footage showing children and elderly people fleeing from the Seat Alhambra and Hassan smashing the vehicle through the barriers to safety were shown in court and can be seen here.
The T&A has obscured the faces of passengers and those who tried to help to avoid identifying them.
Prosecutor Howard Shaw said motorist Stuart Shackleton, who had stopped at the crossing, helped Hassan’s elderly passengers to safety.
It cost £2,195 to repair the barriers.
Hassan told the police: “I did not mean to cross the barriers. I knew it was wrong. It just happened.”
His barrister, Khadim Al’Hassan, said he was of positive good character, without even a speeding ticket.
His wife was in poor health and one of their children was disabled.
“He had a full car of passengers and, immediately they got out, panic set in,” Mr Al’Hassan said. “It was silly and foolish but not deliberate.”
The judge, Recorder Michael Smith, sentenced Hassan to nine months’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, with 150 hours of unpaid work. He was banned from driving for 18 months and must take an extended retest before getting back behind the wheel.
Recorder Smith said: “It seems clear to me that to save a minute or two of waiting you decided to jump the lights and the barriers.”
There was “panic and chaos” when the vehicle got stuck in the middle of the crossing.
“The consequences could have been horrific had a train come along and hit the vehicle.
“There are regular advertisements on television warning of the dangers of trying to beat the lights at level crossings. Sadly a number of people die in such accidents,” Recorder Smith said.
The judge said he could be merciful because Hassan handed himself in to the police and had shown remorse.
After the case, a British Transport Police spokesman said: “Despite our constant warnings about using level crossings safely, unbelievably Mr Hassan has put his own life, and the lives of his passengers, including women and children, at risk through his actions. He was extremely lucky that a train was not coming at the time or the outcome would have been unthinkable.
“Incredibly, some people are still willing to put their lives on the line by ignoring warning lights and sirens and trying to dash through crossings when trains are approaching.
“Our main concern is for the safety of those who use level crossings every day. We are more interested in preventing accidents and saving lives than enforcement.”