A fugitive driver who leapt from his speeding car leaving it to roll across a level crossing as the barriers came down has been jailed.
Ricky McGrath, 22, was told his mindless action as he tried to flee police could have killed “scores of people”.
The dangerous driver was spotted by police overtaking another car in a 30mph area, but refused to stop when they signalled for him to pull over.
He accelerated then abandoned his moving Audi A4 as it approached the level crossing in Watlington, Norfolk.
The out-of-control car incredibly rolled under both lowering barriers just seconds before a passenger train arrived at the nearby station.
It then crashed and came to a standstill on the other side of the railway and McGrath was arrested and charged.
Sentencing McGrath to 22 months in jail on Wednesday, Judge Stephen Holt told Norwich Crown Court he “shuddered to think” what might have happened.
The judge said: “You were not to know whether a train was coming or not. Had a train ploughed into the car, one shudders to think what would have happened.”
He told McGrath, he had an “appalling record” for someone who was still just 22.
McGrath, from Wisbech, Cambs., admitted dangerous driving and endangering rail passengers on the line between King’s Lynn and Downham Market on September 30 this year.
He also admitted escaping from King’s Lynn Magistrates’ Court, on October 1, and aggravated vehicle taking in July, this year.
In July the court heard he had driven at speeds of 107mph on stretches of the A47 in Cambridgeshire.
Then in September McGrath had borrowed the black Audi from a friend.
He failed to stop for police who saw him overtaking at speed in a 30mph zone and leaped from the moving vehicle, at 3.47pm.
Luckily the car was missed by the approaching train two later services were delayed.
Nick Methold, prosecuting, said: “The barriers were coming down and the car continued underneath the barriers.
“He got out of the car while it was still moving and the car went through the barriers without him in it.”
Mr Methold told the court McGrath had “absented himself” from the dock at King’s Lynn Magistrates’ Court.
He was later recaptured by Lincolnshire police seven days after he escaped from the court and arrested in a car on the A17 at Sutton Bridge.
Andrew Cogan, defending, said McGrath was a “realist” and knew he would be going to prison.
He said: “There is no suggestion whatever there was any driving under the influence of any sort of substance, whether it be drugs or drink.”
As well as his custodial sentence McGrath was banned from driving for three years.
A spokesman for First Capital Connect, which runs trains on the busy Fen Line between King’s Lynn and London, yesterday (Thurs) said: “Luckily no-one was hurt but this man’s reckless action could have caused a major accident, injuring or claiming the lives of scores of people.”