A man who caused the derailment of a V/Line train at Kangaroo Flats near Bendigo has avoided conviction after the case was heard in court last week.
In the Bendigo Magistrates’ Court last Monday the 18-year-old pleaded guilty to one charge of unlawfully and negligently obstructing a railway carriage.
Details reported in The Bendigo Advertiser indicate that on the afternoon of February 15 the man’s four-wheel-drive became stuck on the track when attempting to accelerate over the line.
The man had made this attempt after becoming lost on bush tracks on Kangaroo Gully Road.
The man called his father, who then called 000 to inform emergency services of the situation.
However, the train driver of an approaching train (which was on its way to Bendigo) did not receive the message in time, and had to initiate the emergency breaks upon sighting the man and the vehicle.
The train collided with the vehicle at almost 130 kilometres per hour, causing the front carriage to derail. The car was dragged 65 metres, while the train only came to a halt 640 metres further along the track.
The train driver and several passengers suffered minor injuries in the collision. There were reportedly 80 passengers on board at the time.
Damage to the track means that over 1100 concrete sleepers will have to be replaced, and according to The Bendigo Advertiser, V/Line’s repair costs will be over $2 million.
The man’s defence counsel argued that, while the act was negligent and “a very stupid thing”, community work would be a suitable punishment as there was no criminal intent.
A number of character references were reportedly submitted to the court, which were considered “impressive” by magistrate Sarah Leighfield.
The magistrate made clear that while the charge was a serious one, the youth of the man and the evident lack of intent had to be taken into consideration.
Having avoided conviction, the man was placed on a community corrections order for 12 months, and must complete 150 hours of unpaid community work along with a road safety awareness test.