Terry Maher, a trespasser who climbed on top of a tunnel in London, causing mass rail disruption, has been jailed for one year.
Blackfriars Crown Court was told that Maher, 44, of Cubitt Street in Camden, blocked trains between London, Kent and France by climbing on top of a tunnel overlooking railway lines near St Pancras International Station. He clambered onto the tunnel with a St George’s flag, power banks for his phone, warm clothing.
He stayed in the hazardous area for 13 hours, before eventually climbing off the tunnel voluntarily after conversations with negotiators. He was immediately arrested and charged with malicious obstruction of the railway, whereupon he complained about the police and Brexit.
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 had to be cancelled and around 22,000 people were directly affected, delayed, inconvenienced or had to abandon their travel plans. Some international passengers, who were intending to travel on the Eurostar from St Pancras International, were stranded overnight in London.
The cost of the disruption was estimated to be more than £1 million.
Detective sergeant Dean Percival, the investigating officer, 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 holidaymakers 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.”
Maher’s sentence comes just two months after a trespasser who closed Leeds station for four hours and caused over £1 million of train delays was sentenced to six months in jail at Leeds Crown Court.