Man in court after he caused chaos to rail system by scaling electricity pole at Darlington

The scene of the incident

The scene of the incident

First published in News
Last updated
The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by

A MAN who brought chaos to the country's rail network during a two-and-a-half-hour stand-off with the police appeared in court today (Wednesday).

Anthony Lidster climbed 15ft up a stanchion carrying electricity for trains after running down live lines at Darlington station last October.

The suicidal 34-year-old's head was perilously close to the high-voltage wires as he did pull-ups on the pylon, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Ten police officers - including trained negotiators - a force helicopter, two ambulances and a fire and rescue crew were all at the scene.

The court heard how the entire East Coast mainline was disrupted, with knock-on effects in London, the West Country and north-west.

Prosecutor Paul Lee revealed how more than 2,000 minutes of delays were caused, with six services cancelled and nine part-cancellations.

In total, 77 trains were delayed while Lidster, from Chester-le-Street, County Durham, refused to come down from the stanchion.

He was said to have been agitated and was shouting and swearing at people who had gathered below, yelling at some: "All right, lads?"

When he finally gave himself up, Lidster told police he had recently left rehab and went drinking knowing it was not good for him.

He said he did not think of the impact of his actions, he was in a "dark place" and wanted to take his own life, Mr Lee told the court.

Lidster was the subject of an anti-social behaviour order which banned him from the train station after earlier incidents there.

His barrister, Graeme Gaston, said he had been at a psychiatric hospital since October and would remain there until he was well.

Judge Simon Bourne-Arton, QC, imposed a hospital order and told Lidster he would be discharged when his doctor ruled he was fit.

"The doctors have considered the position and he does pose a risk to the public," the judge said. "That risk is significant."

Lidster, of Great North Road, Plawsworth, admitted breaching his anti-social behaviour order - made in June 2011 - last June.

The court heard that he has flouted the order four times and has a criminal record containing 136 offences - mostly dishonesty.

Judge Bourne-Arton told him: "You caused massive disruption to the railway . . . you caused massive disruption to the public.

"Very many members of the public who were trying to travel to see friends or family, or carrying out their normal life, going to work, had their whole daily routine completely disrupted by your actions.

"Whatever your intentions were at the time, you gave no thought to them.

"As I now know, you were, at the time, suffering from a severe personality disorder, the kind which is susceptible to treatment from doctors."

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