RAF officer in court for causing London Tube escalator accident that left woman 15% shorter

Flt Sgt Frans Bekker tried to slide down handrail and knocked her over

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The Independent Online

An RAF officer left a female Tube passenger's spine 15 per cent shorter after her back was fractured when he tried to slide down an escalator handrail, a court has heard.

Flt Sgt Frans Bekker, from Cardiff, was travelling through London with friends when he tried the stunt at Holborn Underground station to prove he “could still move”, Westminster Magistrates’ Court was told.

The 50-year-old hopped backwards onto the moving handrail of the descending escalator but lost control and ploughed into three women, the BBC reported.

Linda Soulsby fractured a vertebra in the accident, which left her in a back brace and caused “an approximate 15 per cent loss of vertebral body height”, prosecutor Jonathan Swain told the court.

“They did not have a chance to brace themselves as they didn't see it coming,” he added.

British Transport Police were called to the scene on 22 October last year and Bekker was charged with endangering the safety of a person conveyed by railway.

On Monday he admitted the offence at Westminster Magistrates’ Court. The crime carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison and dates back to 1861.

Christian Cormack, a lawyer defending Bekker, said: “He was mortified and has been since.”

Bekker, of Clos Y Hebog in Thornhill, Cardiff, is next due to appear in court for a pre-sentencing hearing on 13 April.