Jailed train smash driver named as Doncaster Rovers fan who abused disabled supporter
A drunk railway worker who smashed his car into a high speed express train while racing in Doncaster has been named as one of two Doncaster Rovers fans who abused a severely disabled Rotherham United supporter.
Michael Rochford, 27, was jailed for ten months at Sheffield Crown Court yesterday after the smash near at Rossington Level Crossing in June when he ploughed his Range Rover into a fast-moving LNER Azuma train, injuring a number of passengers on board.
Now it has emerged that sacked Network Rail worker Rochford was one of two Doncaster Rovers fans filmed mocking a severely disabled Rotherham United fan in a match at the latter’s New York Stadium last month.
The clip, which sparked outrage among supporters from both clubs, shows two men laughing, jeering and mimicking the ‘stimming’ movements of an autistic Millers supporter.
Stimming is when a person makes unusual and repetitive gestures such as rocking or flapping in noisy environments to help them cope with stressful situations.
The Free Press has seen evidence confirming that the man on the left of the clip is Rochford. It is understood the other man is his brother.
In the footage, he can be seen grabbing his crotch and laughing and jeering before exiting the ground.
Both men have since been banned by Doncaster Rovers.
Last week, the family of the disabled supporter said they had been overwhelmed with messages of support since the sick footage emerged from the game, which Rovers lost 2-0.
In an open letter, shared by Doncaster Rovers, they wrote: “We would like to thank South Yorkshire Police, Rotherham United, Doncaster Rovers and both sets of fans for their overwhelming support and kindness following the sad incident which occurred during the local derby.
“We never knew that there was so much love and understanding out there and we would like to wholeheartedly thank everyone who has shown their support.
South Yorkshire Police have opened a hate crime investigation into the incident.
Yesterday, a court heard how Rochford had spent the afternoon drinking and was ‘racing’ at the time of the crash which saw passengers on the train suffer whiplash injuries and a pensioner living nearby narrowly avoiding injury after debris from the smash rained down into his garden.
He fled the scene of the accident and later lied to police, saying that his car had been stolen and that he was not behind the wheel of the vehicle following the crash on June 13.
He later pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, attempting to pervert the course of justice and failing to stop after an accident after CCTV footage showed him leaving a pub near the scene shortly before the crash with the London King’s Cross to Newcastle Azuma at around 8pm.
Rochford of Heatherfields Crescent, Rossington was also banned from driving for four years and the court heard that the smash had caused more than 15 hours of delays on the UK rail network and had cost nearly £345,000.
Sentencing, Judge Jeremy Richardson told a tearful Rochford: “You drank heavily and took leave of your senses. You could have caused a major catastrophe on the railway line when many people would have lost their lives.”