The luckiest man in Britain, who diced with death by swinging from a 25,000 volt railway cable, yesterday admitted ’I’ve been a fool.’
Shane White was captured on camera performing the crazy stunt by an eagle-eyed train passenger.
As former railway man Brian Howson, 59, watched in horror, the barechested nut launched himself off a footbridge and swung from the overhead line.
Amazingly, the drunk 22-year-old only escaped death because power to the 25,000 volt cable was off for the first time in 15 months and he chose this tiny seven minute window to perform his daredevil stunt.
Risking death, he dangled precariously in front of a trainload of aghast passengers, including Mr Howson, while a gang of youths egged him on. He only dropped to the ground to retrieve his baseball cap which had fallen off.
Jobless White then fled - and had no memory of the prank until he saw the picture on the front page of his local newspaper.
He handed himself in to police and was yesterday given a suspended sentence and a curfew order for trespassing on railway property.
Speaking outside Tamworth Magistrates’ Court, White confessed he had been so drunk after downing three litres of cider and cans of beer that he couldn’t even remember the incident.
He said: "What can I say? It’s completely and utterly idiotic. I know I’m a fool for doing it.
"I didn’t remember at the time because I was so drunk. I do remember walking through Asda and my missus saying ’who’s that nutcase’ pointing at the paper.
"Then I realised it was me so I went straight to the police and handed myself in.
"I had no idea the power was off. I just did it without knowing. When I found out that the electricity had been cut off at that exact moment I couldn’t believe it,
"I can’t even let it sink in. It’s too much to get my head round. I must be the luckiest man alive. Any other time and I’d be dead no doubt. It’s difficult to appreciate but I know how lucky I am not just to have survived but to get some support to stop my drinking.
"I won’t be doing this again, that’s for sure."
During the short court hearing, magistrates heard how power to the overhead cables had been cut after an unrelated incident further down the track.
Rail engineers were forced to pull the supply between 4.05pm and 4.12pm on August 14, bringing trains to a standstill, the court was told.
White, of Tamworth, Staffs, unintentionally picked that gap to fling himself off the footbridge half a mile south of the town’s station.
Sara Beddow, prosecuting, said: "A passenger saw the defendant, Mr White, climbing out of the railway bridge and take hold of the overhead line.
"The defendant was seen hanging over the track. This went on for a short time. He admitted it was him hanging from the wire. And that he was drinking. He didn’t realise how dangerous his actions were.
"He thought they were telephone wires. Had the electricity been on there is no doubt Shane White would have died."
John McGregor, defending, said White had won the ’lottery of life.’
He said: "Over the last 15 months power has never been off apart from the seven minutes when he was hanging on.
"My client didn’t know why the trains had stopped. He was not aware that the power was off.
"It was an idiotic action but now I think he’s realised how lucky he was and how lucky he is. He’s a very lucky, lucky man.
"What I’ve seen has hopefully been a real change of attitude since this took place. He was depressed and drunk over the breakdown of a relationship at that particular time.
"He doesn’t know what made him get on the line. What he does accept is that it was a stupid and idiotic action but no trains were inconvenienced because they had already been stopped earlier."
White, who was dressed in white check shirt and blue jeans, was given a four months jail sentence suspended for 18 months and a 120 day curfew order between 7pm and 7am. He was also told to pay #60 costs.
Train passenger Mr Howson, whose picture led to White’s conviction, said: "I saw him and thought ’what an idiot’ because I worked on the railways for 40 years and knew if that wire was live he would have been killed.
"It was silly bravado. He was risking his life."