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15 April 2011, 10:14
A man who smashed through a closed level crossing in Peterborough during a Police chase has been jailed.
20 year old Terence Fowler [pictured - below] stole the Mercedes [shown in video below] from outside a house in March on the 20th June last year.
As the vehicle was reported stolen, it was later picked up on an Automatic Number Plate Recognition Camera in Peterborough.
Officers then tried to stop the car on Town Bridge, but Fowler, from March, drove through a red light and sped off at speeds approaching 100 miles an hour.
Fowler refused to stop as police pursued him through Stanground and on to Whittlesey.
He then smashed through a closed level crossing, just seconds before a 120 tonne train, travelling at 75 miles an hour from Stansted Airport to Birmingham, passed through.
Passengers on the passing train reported feeling the carriages shudder as the train ploughed through the destroyed barrier.
Police were forced to abandon the chase because it was too dangerous, but the stolen car was found abandoned in nearby Woolpack Lane in Whittlesey.
Forensic tests on blood found on the car's windscreen linked Fowler to the car, who was traced through DNA and caught after being arrested in Bournemouth for assault.
After pleading guilty to dangerous driving, aggravated vehicle taking, criminal damage, obstructing an engine or carriage using a railway and driving without insurance, Fowler has been sentenced to three and a half years in prison.
Detective Inspector Michael Branston said: "Fowler showed total disregard for other road users, pedestrians and rail passengers as he tried to evade being caught by police.
His actions put many lives at risk and he was lucky not to have been killed himself.
This case shows that no matter what lengths criminals will go to, justice will always catch up with them in the end."
Peterborough Crown Court heard that it cost £29,852.50 to repair the barriers, and caused 476 minutes of delays to trains in the Peterborough area, costing the train company £5,231.55.
Judge Nic Madge said: ''It is hard to think of more dangerous driving which did not cause injury.
You were extremely lucky.
You were seconds away from a fatal collision with a train in which many people, including yourself, would have been killed or injured.
In other words, if you had survived you were seconds away from a sentence of life imprisonment.
I do not sentence you for what might have happened but for what you actually did.
But I bear in mind it was a frightening experience for the train driver who saw the car flash across the level crossing moments in front of his train."