PUBLIC prosecutors have asked that a man who abandoned his car on a high-speed line causing a TGV carrying 300 people to derail should face a maximum six-month suspended sentence and lose his licence for just eight months.
This, despite the fact that the 24-year-old was drunk and had taken cannabis.
However the SNCF is also pressing civil charges and is expected to try to bill the man around €1 million.
A court in Niort heard that the accident happened in February at Mauzé-sur-le-Mignon in Deux-Sèvres, Poitou-Charentes.
The man took a wrong turning and went down a dead-end lane, bumping into a barrier and ending up with his car part-way across the line. A passing local train narrowly missed him and he panicked and abandoned his BMW.
Shortly afterwards the power unit on a TGV hit the car and the train derailed. The train was seriously damaged as were 800m of track, however the passengers were unhurt.
The lawyer for the accused, a labourer who is studying to be a librarian, argued the lane was badly-signed and said the commune had now placed a sign on it saying it was a no-through road. The SNCF had also covered the barrier in reflective strips.
She said her client should be let off because it was not his fault.
The prosecutor stressed the man’s lack of self-control and said the damage was his responsibility.
A judgment will be passed on May 17.