Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting ECHONEWS to 80360, or email us »
Detonator concerns at Leigh rail depot after boy’s injury
3:35pm Wednesday 15th August 2012 in News
CONCERNS have been raised over security at a rail depot where a 15-year-old boy was blinded by an explosive detonator he found there.
Residents and councillors were alarmed to learn youths regularly got into the Network Rail depot – near a popular skatepark – through a gap in the fence behind Leigh station.
They have questioned how the teenager gained access so easily to the detonators – used to warn train drivers of work on the line.
Caroline Parker, chairman of Leigh Town Council’s transport and highways committee and member of its youth facilities working party, said: “It’s absolutely tragic.
“Obviously any explosive, and anything that would prove to be a danger to life, should be locked up.
“We were totally unaware anything like that was kept at the back of the park.”
The boy, who needed emergency surgery after he and two friends threw the detonators onto a bonfire, was in Southend Hospital in a stable condition yesterday. He has lost the sight in his right eye.
Two 17-year-olds arrested on suspicion of theft in connection with the incident have now been released on police bail.
Youths who use the skate park said they removed two fence struts and regularly got in through the gap, which was hastily repaired on Sunday.
Pat Holden, chairman of Leigh Town Council, said youngsters there told her they actually had a “den” on the depot site.
She said a woman claiming to be the injured boy’s mother called her to say the teenagers found the detonators in a skip on the site.
Mrs Holden said: “Why wasn’t something done about the hole in the fence? “It doesn’t sound terribly good.”
The fence was repaired two years ago, but the struts had been removed again since.
Mike King, of nearby Marine Parade, said: “I’m just astonished they kept these detonators somewhere they can be relatively easily accessed.
“They should be in a building under a lock and key.”
Jordan Martin, 19, whose family owns the nearby Leigh Golf Driving Range, said: “It’s ridiculous. “Doesn’t anyone check anything?”
Tony Cox, Southend councillor responsible for public protection and transport, said: “Obviously it’s concerning if there are gaps in the fence and the appropriate bodies will take action to make it as secure as possible.”
However Network Rail declined to comment in case it jeopardised an investigation by the British Transport Police.