AN actor who starred in the hit film Billy Elliot has been killed by a freight train.

Dennis Lingard, 54, the son of a North-East shipyard welder, died on May 14 when he wandered drunkenly on to railway tracks and was hit by the locomotive.

Mr Lingard, who appeared in Billy Elliot alongside Oscar-nominated Teesside actor Jamie Bell, was a friend of Robson Green and starred with the Geordie heart-throb in the 1995 Catherine Cookson adaptation Gambling Man.

The father-of-two was killed after getting out of his wife's car on their way home.

Susan Jennifer Lingard told an inquest how her husband's drunken behaviour caused her to turn off the A69 at Low Row, near Brampton, Cumbria.

Signalman Tim McVittie saw Mr Lingard walking on the cattle boards at the Low Row level crossing. He shouted for him to stop, but Mr Lingard continued.

Mr McVittie, of Milton Terrace, Brampton, informed British Transport Police, the signalman at Haltwhistle, and the drivers of a passenger train and freight train to proceed with caution.

Freight train driver Colin Thornhill said he received the warning that a man was walking along the line in the Low Row area, so he reduced his speed accordingly.

He said: "I was braking the train as we came round a right hand bend and Mr Lingard was in front of me. I had no time to react."

Mr Lingard began acting aged 12.

North Cumbria coroner Ian Morton recorded an open verdict.