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3 March 2010, 14:56
A carpenter from Dartford's been jailed for four years after he was found guilty of pushing a woman onto a railway track.
A carpenter has been found guilty of pushing a woman on to a rail track in the morning rush-hour following a row over his smoking on a platform in Kent.
A judge said 33-year-old Ionel Rapisca faces an "immediate and substantial" period in prison for shoving Linda Buchanan on to the track.
Senior management consultant Miss Buchanan warned Rapisca against smoking at the station, telling him:
"I don't like the smell of cancer."
The following day, August 6 2008, Miss Buchanan, 59, again came across 6ft 1in Rapisca as she waited to catch the 07:12 service from Farningham Road station in Kent to her offices in Mayfair, central London.
A trial at Maidstone Crown Court heard that Rapisca, accompanied by his brother-in-law, made an obscene noise with his mouth as 5ft 4in Miss Buchanan neared him on the platform. He then pushed her on to the track with both his hands, causing her to land "dangerously" near a live line carrying 750 volts.
Miss Buchanan suffered a fractured wrist, severe bruising to her thigh and post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the fall. As Romanian Rapisca stood over her on the platform as she lay injured on the track, she told the court how she feared he was about to "finish me off". However, he then jumped down on to the track and dragged her on to the platform, while his
brother-in-law retrieved her mobile phone before both men fled.
Rapisca, of Joyce Green Lane, Dartford, was cleared of causing grievous bodily harm with intent but convicted of an alternative charge of causing GBH following more than three hours of deliberation by the jury.
The day before the incident, Miss Buchanan told the court how she confronted Rapisca after seeing him blowing smoke in her direction and laughing at her on the platform. From snatches of conversation, she suspected he was not English and thought he might be unaware that smoking was forbidden at the station.
Giving evidence from behind a screen, she said: "I walked up to him and very politely said, 'Sorry, do you know it's no smoking at this station?' At that point he started laughing and blew smoke at me again. I've never liked the smell
of smoke because it reminded me of my dad who died of lung cancer. I just said to him, 'I don't like the smell of cancer'. I thought he had been acting like a boy and maybe this would stop him."
Miss Buchanan walked back to her usual position on the platform and ignored Rapisca. On the day of the incident, CCTV cameras captured the point at which she was pushed, and witnesses described hearing a woman screaming before seeing
her on the track. Five days later, Rapisca was arrested at his home but declined to comment in police interview. Identity procedures were held and he was picked out by Miss Buchanan before being charged on August 23.
Rapisca claimed he acted in self defence after being confronted by her and insisted that he used insufficient force to cause her to fall. He said he reacted after Miss Buchanan approached him "wagging a finger in his face and making derogatory comments".