- A man who blocked trains between London, Kent and France by climbing on top of a tunnel overlooking railway lines near St Pancras International Station has been jailed.
Terry Maher clambered onto the tunnel which is owned by Network Rail with a St George’s flag, power banks for his phone, warm clothing and stayed in the extremely hazardous area for 13 hours. He eventually climbed off the tunnel voluntarily after conversations with negotiators.
Maher’s actions stopped high speed trains travelling to the south east and France, disrupting thousands of commutes and delaying holidays. In total, 88 trains were cancelled and around 22,000 people were directly affected, delayed, inconvenienced or had to abandon their travel plans.
International passengers, who were intending to travel on the Eurostar from St Pancras International, were also stranded overnight in London and the cost of the disruption is estimated to be more than £1 million.
Maher was found guilty of malicious obstruction of the railway and was sentenced to one year in jail at Blackfriars Crown Court on Monday 12 August.
John Halsall, Managing Director of Network Rail Southern Region, said: “Trespassing on the railway is incredibly dangerous and selfish.
“Not only can it cause extraordinary disruption to passengers, it can lead to death or catastrophic injuries.
“I’m really pleased that the court has recognised the seriousness of what this man did. I hope his one year prison sentence serves as a stark warning that if you are lucky enough to survive trespassing on the railway, then you could go to jail for a long time.”
Investigating officer Detective Sergeant Dean Percival said: “This has been described as the single most expensive incident in the history of high-speed railway in Britain.
“However, not only did it cost the rail industry, it also cost thousands of commuters and holiday-makers their time, significantly delaying their journeys and leaving them stranded at stations desperate for the situation to be resolved.
“Maher’s selfish actions profoundly impacted the day to day lives of the public; that impact is what he was brought to court to answer for.”