The real story behind the 'drunk director' asleep on the track

The headlines portrayed him as a joke. The truth is not so funny

The story of the company director who fell drunkenly asleep on a railway line seemed at first glance to be utterly hilarious, especially in the midst of office party season. To the tales of what old George in accounts did after sinking nine whiskies could be added that of Kevin Craswell.

And so, the coverage beside the now-famous picture of a besuited figure slumped across the rails reached no further than the handiest stereotype. "Boss falls asleep on railway after vodka binge at rush hour" read one headline; others went for a pun: "Court fines railway sleeper".

But far from being a "boss" on a Christmas bender, Kevin Craswell was a 48-year-old unemployed man, reduced to living with his elderly parents on £80 a week benefits, who in his despair last March, drank himself into a potentially fatal stupor.

Until five years ago, he was a successful company director with a wife and child. As Graham Brooker, managing director of Wilson Electric, a company in which the Craswell family is still involved, said: "This was a very nice, very kind and intelligent person who just took the wrong road. It is one of those sad tragedies."

That road was drink. In court last month -- he was charged with lying on a railway track - one of his solicitors, Philip Longes, said: "He's lost his family, his home, his job and his self-esteem. He has sunk to the bottom."

The scale of his problem with alcohol can be measured in the wretched state he was in last March. He had consumed so much vodka that by 3pm he had clambered on to the track near Epsom in Surrey. Was he so drunk that he didn't know where he was or the danger he was in? Or was he about to do what 201 people did last year and commit suicide under a train? We shall never know, for Mr Craswell has no memory of that afternoon.

Travellers waiting at the station saw him come into view, crawling along the track. He then passed out, with his feet a mere 12 inches from the live rail. Nothing, initially, could wake him. Not the shouts from the platform, a train passing within feet of him, or the clatter of a police helicopter hovering above as it monitored the incident and took the now famous pictures of a comatose Mr Craswell, a movement away from 750 volts.

The current was turned off, trains held up for 20 minutes, and rescuers tried torouse him. When they succeeded, Mr Craswell was found to have drunk so much that he was taken to hospital and treated for hypothermia. Once sober, he could recall nothing.

But, say his lawyers, the experience had shocked him into action. Graham Guerin told Redhill magistrates: "He has taken steps to help himself including referring himself to Respond [a drugs and alcohol rehabilitation centre] on a day programme and to see a counsellor." His lawyer described him as a "recovering" alcoholic, a description that speaks of hope for a man who has been through a personal hell. Neighbours in the smart tree-lined road in Ashtead where Mr Craswell lives said that he had now begun to turn his life around.

Richard Kramer, director of policy at the social care charity Turning Point said: "There are three million people dependent on alcohol in the UK, and yet there is a real shortage of treatment services, and, unlike illegal drugs, alcohol abuse is an issue that cuts across all social classes."

"Somebody with a mental health problem may self-medicate with alcohol. But alcohol problems may in turn lead to depression, anxiety and other mental health problems."

Additional reporting by Lauren Veevers

Sport
sportGareth Bale, Carl Froch and Kelly Gallagher also in the mix for award
News
Japan's Suntory Beverage & Food has bought GlaxoSmithKline's Lucozade and Ribena
news
News
A tongue-eating louse (not the one Mr Poli found)
newsParasitic louse appeared inside unfilleted sea bass
Life and Style
The reindeer pen at the attraction
lifeLaurence Llewelyn-Bowen's 'Magical Journey' and other winter blunderlands
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
Tana Ramsay gave evidence in a legal action in which her husband, Gordon, is accusing her father, Christopher Hutcheson, of using a ghost writer machine to “forge” his signature
peopleTana Ramsay said alleged discovery was 'extremely distressing'
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Windsor and Aljaz Skorjanec rehearse their same-sex dance together on Strictly Come Dancing
TV
Money
Anyone over the age of 40 seeking a loan with a standard term of 25 years will be borrowing beyond a normal retirement age of 65, and is liable to find their options restricted
propertyAnd it's even worse if you're 40
Arts and Entertainment
Perhaps longest awaited is the adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road with Brazil’s Walter Salles directing and Sam Riley, Kristen Stewart and Viggo Mortensen as the Beat-era outsiders
books
Arts and Entertainment
theatreSinger to join cast of his Broadway show after The Last Ship flounders at the box office
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Employment Solicitor

£30000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent: Austen Lloyd: Employment Solicitor - Ke...

Argyll Scott International: Risk Assurance Manager

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: Hi All, I'm currently recruiting for t...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Ashdown Group: IT Systems Analyst / Application Support Engineer (ERP / SSRS)

£23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible