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Lincolnshire signalman loses job after being over drink-drink limit while on duty

By East Lindsey Target  |  Posted: September 11, 2012

Skegness Magistrates' Court

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A RAILWAY signalman has lost his job, his driving licence and been fined a total of £645 after being found over the legal alcohol limit while on duty.

William Richards of Low Road South, Friskney, was working at the Signal Box, Thorpe Culvert when he gave a positive breath test to police of 66 micrograms of alcohol in breath, the legal limit being 35 micrograms.

The court heard Mr Richards had been involved in a collision with a Ford Fiesta on Culvert Road around 6am on August 6, and had left his details before continuing on to work.

In mitigation, Saleem Khan, said: "He denies all liability in terms of the accident and believes the other party was fully responsible.

"He actually started drinking while cooking the day before, on the Sunday. He was making a meal about 4.30pm and whilst doing so he used some homemade wine, and was also consuming some wine.

"Between 4.30pm and 9.30pm when he went to bed, he had what he describes as nearly a bottle of homemade wine."

Mr Kahn explained Mr Richards' wife was also a signal operator and would not have let her husband drive his car the next morning if she thought he was still under the influence of alcohol.

Mr Kahn said Mr Richard's ability to do his job had not been impaired, and police had witnessed him carrying out his duties when they went to obtain the sample of breath.

He said: "Whilst he fully appreciates there is a clear duty of responsibility on someone like him it's certainly different from the case of someone that's so drunk at work they are slumping over the controls.

"He clearly regrets what's happened."

The court heard that Mr Richards, 53, was currently on suspension from work and would be dismissed later this month.

Mr Kahn said: "He has always acted in an exemplary manner at work. The impact of these proceedings are that not a day has gone by when he hasn't thought about what's happened.

"Because of his age he is effectively going to be unemployable as a result and he may be forced to take receipt of benefits.

"On top of that, because he is earning quite a good income at the moment, he is probably not going to be able to afford the house in which he resides."

Mr Richards pleaded guilty to one offence of driving a motor vehicle while over the legal alcohol limit and a second of being over the alcohol limit for a transport system operator.

Magistrate Anthony Western, told him: "We regard the second offence as being of immense potential seriousness."

Mr Richards was fined a total of £545, disqualified from driving for 18 months and ordered to pay £85 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

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