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Train driver jailed after falling asleep and derailing Overground train

Erkan Mehmet fell asleep at the wheel of the train before derailing the front carriage.

A driver who derailed an Overground train after falling asleep at the wheel with cocaine in his system has been jailed.

Erkan Mehmet, 44, of Middle Street, Waltham Abbey, pleaded guilty at Inner London Crown Court to endangering the safety of the railway and was sentenced to 16 weeks in prison on Friday, British Transport Police said.

On October 12 2021, Mehmet was driving a London Overground train to Enfield Town when he entered platform two at the station and failed to stop – before crashing into the buffers, causing the front carriage to derail.

The carriage came off the tracks and was stuck about five feet in the air at an angle with around 50 passengers on board at the time, with a small number of them reporting minor injuries and shock.

Mehmet was breathalysed at the scene and blew negative but a urine sample tested positive for cocaine.

Overground train derailed at Enfield Town station
The Overground train that Mehmet derailed in 2021 (British Transport Police/PA)

BTP said the drug probably entered his system in the 24-hours beforehand.

In an interview with detectives, Mehmet claimed to have never taken drugs and said he fell asleep at the wheel because he only had a couple hours of sleep the night before.

Detective Constable Gemma Littlewood said: “Train drivers are entrusted with the safety of every passenger onboard so it is frankly unthinkable that Mehmet turned up to work in a condition which left him falling asleep at the wheel, putting them all in significant danger.

“It is only through luck that nobody was seriously injured or worse, killed, as a result of his actions that day.

“Investigators have worked closely with Arriva Rail London, who fully supported the investigation, to ensure he has been brought before the courts to face justice and while incidents like this are rare, we will continue to relentlessly investigate anyone suspected of putting passengers in danger and hold them to account.”

Paul Hutchings, managing director at Arriva Rail London, said: “We take the safety and security of our customers and colleagues incredibly seriously.

“We have a zero-tolerance policy for drugs and alcohol, which exceeds industry standards, and the driver involved was immediately suspended following the incident and subsequently dismissed after returning a positive test result.”

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