Ex-train driver who hijacked Southeastern service during rush hour is spared jail

Jeffrey Wheeler hijacked a Southeastern train (not pictured) during rush hour (Picture: PA)

An ex-train driver who hijacked a Southeastern train during rush hour has been spared jail.

Jeffrey Wheeler, 56, disrupted routes when he locked himself in the cabin of the service, travelling from London Cannon Street Station to Orpington, and hit the emergency brakes at around 7.15am.

He was eventually arrested when he exited the train shortly after it stopped on November 25 last year and walked along the tracks.

Wheeler had been confronted by the real driver of the train when he barricaded himself in the cabin after using his old keys to gain access.

He had left Southeastern in October 2016 after being offered a settlement.

The incident caused delays to train services (Picture: PA)

The hijack affected 70,000 commuters and cost Southeastern £400,000, The Sun Online reported.

Wheeler admitted obstructing the railway at the Inner London Crown Court.

Judge Silas Reid attributed Wheeler’s behaviour to ‘upset and spite'.

The court also heard the defendant had fallen into depression after leaving Southeastern.

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Wheeler was handed a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months.

He will also have to complete 150 hours of unpaid work and a rehabilitation programme lasting 20 days.

A Southeastern spokesman said: 'The incident on 25 November caused widespread disruption and we would like to apologise to those passengers delayed by Mr Wheeler's actions.

'We are grateful to the City of London Police for their rapid intervention and hope that this sentence will deter others from disrupting the railway - risking their own safety and delaying the many passengers who rely on our services.'

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