Schizophrenic admits pushing man in front of train

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The Independent Online

A railway station worker was pushed in front of a moving train by a schizophrenic who fled from hospital hours earlier, a court heard today.

Ade Yusuf was left terrified as Stuart Cowdrey threw him into the path of the train at London Bridge station in January this year.

The Hastings to Charing Cross service screeched to a halt just 80 to 100 yards away from him, the Old Bailey heard.

Cowdrey, 38, of Pratt Street, Regents Park, London, was detained indefinitely under mental health legislation today.

He pleaded guilty to endangering the safety of a person on the railway, as well as an assault on another member of the platform staff.

Cowdrey had been taken to Whitechapel hospital in east London by police officers that morning after they found him wandering the streets in a confused state.

But before assessments could be completed he wandered off sparking a police search, the court was told.

Hours later he arrived at London Bridge station where he was seen running on the spot and banging his head against a pillar before jumping onto the track but avoiding the 750V live rail, and then climbing back on to the platform.

Trains coming into the station were warned about what was happening and drivers slowed down to 15mph on their approach.

Concerned members of staff approached Cowdrey out of concern for his safety and the safety of other members of the public but he pushed one of them, Mr Yusuf, onto the line.

Jacob Hallam, prosecuting, said: "Mr Yusuf fell on the railway line, avoiding the power line but also avoiding the incoming train because it was already travelling slowly, and slowed to a stop. It was obviously a very frightening experience."

Colin Young, another member of staff, helped his colleague up but was punched and kicked by Cowdrey - who was then restrained before being carried off, shouting abuse, when police arrived.

The court heard that Mr Yusuf now suffers from recurring nightmares about what happened and has returned to work after several months off but is too scared to go back to his original job on the platform.

Dr Timothy Rogers, a psychiatrist, said Cowdrey had a long history of schizophrenia and had stopped taking his medication in mid-2009.

Judge Peter Beaumont, the Recorder of London, told the defendant: "This was undoubtedly a very frightening incident for members of staff at the station who had to deal with the risk that you posed both to yourself and to them at a time when it is clear that you were very unwell."

Detective Sergeant Pete Thrush, investigating officer for British Transport Police, said: "While these types of incident are extremely rare, they are nonetheless treated very seriously by investigators.

"Fortunately, the victim was uninjured thanks to quick-thinking station staff spotting the incident and placing trains on caution.

"This meant the driver of a train pulling into the platform was able to bring the service to a quick stop, preventing what could have been far more serious consequences."