Railway bridge leap threat man at centre of '12 other incidents'
A TORQUAY man, who cost a rail company more than £37,000 in train delay fines by threatening to jump off a railway bridge, has been at the centre of 12 other incidents, police have revealed.
Torbay Magistrates' Court heard how Jeremy Stewart stood over the parapet of the railway bridge at the bottom of the Torbay Ring Road for more than two-and-a-half hours, causing 12 Cross Country trains to be cancelled or delayed.
Hundreds of Bristol Rovers football fans could not get home following their team's defeat against Exeter City as they were stuck without any available train service.
Three police cars attended the mid-afternoon incident at Hamlyn Way on Saturday and cordoned off the area while negotiators spoke to Stewart.
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He was finally talked down and was arrested for trespassing on to a railway line and throwing a gym holdall on to the track.
Prosecutor Chris Bittlestone told the court it was the second time in a week that Stewart, 39, from The Willows in Torquay, had threatened to throw himself on to a railway line from a bridge.
On July 27, he had to be talked down from a bridge parapet near Torbay Hospital and broke a police sergeant's finger in a tussle leading to his arrest.
Mr Bittlestone said: "As a result of his actions, the railway network came to a complete halt. Six trains were cancelled and six other were partially cancelled. The rail service was compromised as far away as Leeds.
"Network Rail are subject to heavy penalty for any delays. They are fined £250 for every minute trains are late. This incident lasted 185 minutes costing £37,000 and a lot of police time being wasted."
Mr Bittlestone told the court that Stewart had been spotted climbing over the parapet at 3.40pm on Saturday and police were called.
He said Stewart then threw his bag onto the line below to see 'where gravity would take it so he could see where he would land should he decide to follow'.
Mr Bittlestone said it was not the first time Stewart had threatened to throw himself off a railway bridge.
Stewart, who will appear before Exeter Crown Court on August 9 for wasting police time during the July 27 incident near Torbay Hospital, pleaded guilty to one count of trespassing on to a railway line and causing obstruction to a railway train and another count of throwing a bag on to the rail track and causing damage to the railway when he appeared before the courts on Monday.
The offence was committed while on bail for the previous incident.
Mervyn Williams, mitigating, said Stewart was suffering from psychosis, anxiety and depression and was on medication.
He said: "On this occasion he does know when the suicide thoughts over took him. He remembers going to the bridge and climbing over the wall and throwing a bag off.
"The bag did not go on to the rail track but hit concrete. He didn't want to throw it in front of any oncoming train. He wouldn't want to put any train driver at risk or put anyone through that kind of extreme trauma, but he did contemplate suicide.
"He found himself here because of the state of his mental health problems.
"The solution for people with mental health problems is not prison."
Magistrates told Stewart that his offences were so serious that only the crown court could sentence him.
Stewart was remanded in custody until September 9 when he will appear before Exeter Crown Court to be sentenced for the latest offences.
After the court hearing, Insp Adrian Leisk said Stewart had been linked to 12 similar incidents and had cost tax payers thousands of pounds.
He said: "This man has been linked to at least 12 similar incidents in the past six months.
"Last month he threatened to jump off the footbridge over the A380 at Newton Abbot. We were forced to close the road for hours which cost businesses, restaurants, bars, camp sites thousands of pounds. Many holiday makers were stuck."
Insp Leisk added: "We welcome the respite that his remand into custody is giving us. While we hope he will reflect on his actions and realise the seriousness of his offences, we hope he gets the treatment he requires."