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Burglar in tree delayed 783 trains and cost half a million pounds - Jailed

from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/11129266/Burglar-in-tree-delayed-783-trains-and-cost-half-a-million-pounds.html

Burglar in tree delayed 783 trains and cost half a million pounds

A burglar who caused misery for thousands of commuters after 'stupidly' climbing a tree next to a railway line in a bid to avoid police line has been jailed

Carlton Andre, 36, is facing prison
Carlton Andre, 36, is facing prison  Photo: Cascade
 

A "stupid" burglar who climbed up a tree next to a train line to avoid police, led to the delay or cancellation of 783 trains at a cost of half a million pounds, a court was told.

Carlton Andre, 36, is now starting an 18-month jail term after he delayed hundreds of thousands of commuters.

Andre, clad in motorcyle gear and a balaclava, had used an angle grinder to cut open the shutters of the Currys store at Stone Lake Retail Park in Charlton, south east London, causing £1,500 worth of damage.

When police were called he panicked and tried to escape empty-handed on a stolen motorbike.

But when the £4,000 bike, stolen in July from St James' Square in central London, failed to start he fled on foot from police who tried to Taser him, before he hid in a garden shed.

When Andre was located by a police helicopter he once again fled across live railway tracks before climbing a tree near Charlton railway station.

Hundreds of trains through Woolwich and Greenwich were disrupted on August 13, a Wednesday, after Andre spent 17 hours up the tree.

Andre, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to burglary, driving a car without the owner's consent and driving while disqualified at an earlier hearing. He also pleaded guilty to obstructing police, criminal damage and obstructing the railway following an attempted burglary at a commercial unit.

John Warrington, prosecuting, told Woolwich Crown Court that police called to reports of a burglary at Currys chased Andre on foot and tried to Taser him.

Mr Warrington said: "That seemed to have no effect, probably because of the protective motorcycle clothing that was being worn."

He said that after a struggle Andre "managed to pull himself free."

Mr Warrington added: "He was hiding in a shed when he was located by a police helicopter.

"Realising that he had been tracked, he moved on and the helicopter followed him.

"It was at this stage that he made his way on to the nearby railway tracks and stayed there.

"The railway tracks were live railway tracks in the vicinity of Charlton station."

Mr Warrington said that Andre had stayed by the tracks near the station in south east London for "approximately an hour" in the hope that the helicopter would "give up".

He said: "He then took things further and climbed a nearby tree in order to evade being captured.

"He was in the tree for about 17 hours before he came down and was arrested.

"He remained in that tree until seven o'clock in the evening which is when he agreed to come down."

Met Police, British Transport Police, paramedics and rail staff were all called to try and get him down, eventually arresting him after a 17 hour wait.

Mr Warrington added: "The cost of that incident is estimated at £490,826 - 783 trains were affected by his actions of which a hundred were either fully cancelled or cancelled in part."

Jailing Andre, Recorder Steven Kovats QC said:"In my judgement these offences are so serious that only a custodial sentence can be imposed.

"This was a very serious offence of its type. It's true that nobody was killed or injured but amount of disruption was large.

"Your behaviour that night was selfish, it was stupid, but it was not irrational."

He added: "You are now nearly 40-years-old. I do take into account that you had a difficult upbringing.

Referring to Andre's previous 20 convictions he said: "You have been before the courts for a number of cases over a number of years.

"You still have not got beyond your criminal ways. The total is an 18 month imprisonment."

The Recorder turned down Andre's request for a mental health assessment on the basis that his behaviour did not seem irrational, adding: "Maybe very stupid and foolish behaviour, but it doesn't seem to me irrational."

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