Train driver who crashed into scaffolding while drunk is spared jail

Joseph McKeraghan, 59, struck ladders at a train depot in Croydon, south London, around half an hour into his afternoon shift on December 27 2018, Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard. (PA)
Joseph McKeraghan, 59, struck ladders at a train depot in Croydon, south London, around half an hour into his afternoon shift on December 27 2018, Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard. (PA)

A former train driver who crashed into scaffolding while drunk has been given a suspended jail sentence and banned from driving.

Joseph McKeraghan, 59, struck ladders at a train depot in Croydon, south London, around half an hour into his afternoon shift on December 27, 2018.

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He then went home and drank most of a bottle of wine in an apparent bid to mask his blood alcohol level, Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard.

Shortly after the incident he resigned from his post.

McKeraghan, a Southern Railway employee of 12 years, was found guilty in his absence last month of being unfit for work through drink.

Passing sentence on Monday, Sarah Houston, chairing the bench, told McKeraghan: “You have shown considerable remorse, however this was reckless and caused damage.

“Thankfully no-one was hurt.”

He then went home and drank most of a bottle of wine in an apparent bid to mask his blood alcohol level, the court was previously told. (PA)
He then went home and drank most of a bottle of wine in an apparent bid to mask his blood alcohol level, the court was previously told. (PA)

Mrs Houston imposed a three-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months alongside a 12-month driving ban.

She also ordered McKeraghan to pay the £775 cost of his trial which he failed to attend, as well as a £115 victim surcharge.

After the incident was reported, British Transport Police (BTP) Inspector Michael Tanner told the court he found McKeraghan clutching a bottle of wine while still in his work uniform at his home.

He said: “When he opened the door I could smell alcoholic liquor on his breath as he was speaking to me.

“He seemed unsteady on his feet and his eyes were glazed.”

At around 9.50pm, five hours after the collision, he was found with at least 38 micrograms of alcohol in his system – the legal limit for train drivers is 13 micrograms.

McKeraghan, a Southern Railway employee of 12 years, was found guilty in his absence of being unfit for work through drink last month. (Getty)
McKeraghan, a Southern Railway employee of 12 years, was found guilty in his absence of being unfit for work through drink last month. (Getty)

Forensic scientist Michael Robinson told the trial the amount of alcohol McKeraghan claimed to have consumed after the incident was not consistent with his blood alcohol level, adding: “In my opinion he has drunk more.”

McKeraghan, formerly of Raynes Park, south-west London, has since moved in with a cousin in Kilwinning, in north Ayshire, Scotland.

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He told the court he has been signed off work with anxiety and has been attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings around three times per week.

McKeraghan said he would soon look for work but that it “won’t be within the railway industry”, adding: “I’ve never been unemployed in my life.”

The court heard he is of previous good character.

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