Thursday 23 January 2020

Suspect in tree causes rail delays

Southeastern was forced to close a London-bound track after a burglary suspect climbed a tree near Charlton station
Southeastern was forced to close a London-bound track after a burglary suspect climbed a tree near Charlton station

A suspected burglar perched in a tree overhanging a railway line for several hours causing major disruption for commuters today.

The strong-willed fugitive climbed the tree near Charlton station in south-east London in the early hours of this morning, and refused to come down throughout the morning rush hour.

He had been chased by police after an attempted burglary at a nearby retail park shortly before 2am, in a pursuit involving the Metropolitan Police helicopter.

British Transport Police (BTP) sent specialist officers to try to persuade him to come down from the tree near Barney Close, but rail operator Southeastern was forced to close the track during the morning peak.

Chief Inspector Jenny Gilmer said: "Shortly after 7pm on Wednesday 13 August, a man was talked down from a tree near to the rail line at Charlton.

"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 32-year-old man was subsequently arrested on suspicion of burglary and obstruction of trains with intent and he remains in police custody.

"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."

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."

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