Suspected burglar who hid in tree for hours severely disrupted trains near Charlton

The man was in the tree from around 2am to 7pm

A suspected burglar caused major disruptions to train services on Wednesday morning, when he refused to come down from a tree overhanging a railway station for several hours.

The strong-willed 32-year-old fugitive climbed the tree near Charlton station in south-east London in the early hours of Wednesday morning, and would not come down despite the morning rush hour.

A Metropolitan police helicopter was involved in the chase following an attempted burglary at a nearby retail park shortly before 2am.

By 7pm the man was talked down, after the British Transport Police (BTP) sent specialist officers to the tree near Barney Close.

In the meantime, rail operator Southeastern was forced to close the track during the morning peak.

Chief Inspector Jenny Gilmer said: “The man had been in the tree since the early hours of the morning and his return to the ground marked the end of a difficult and lengthy operation involving British Transport Police, Met Police, London Fire and Rescue, Network Rail and Southeastern Trains."

The man was subsequently arrested on suspicion of burglary and obstruction of trains with intent and he remains in police custody, Gilmer added.

"I'd like to thank all those who have worked tirelessly throughout the day to bring this operation to a safe conclusion and would also like to thank the local community and travelling public for their continuing patience and understanding during what was an extremely sensitive process," Gilmer said.

Southeastern said that the tree overhangs the London-bound track and so it was not safe to run services while the man refused to come down, although trains out of London were able to run normally after an initial closure.

London-bound services were diverted or delayed, and tickets were accepted on the Underground and buses.

A spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Police said: “Police were called to reports of an attempted burglary at a commercial unit on the Stone Lake Retail Park, SE7, at 1.50am on August 13.

”On arrival, officers identified a suspect and began a pursuit which also involved the Metropolitan Police's Air Support Unit, during which the man was observed running close to rail lines.

“The suspect subsequently climbed a tree next to the rail lines off Barney Close.”

Additional reporting by PA