A JOHNSTONE man has been jailed for three years after a bizarre incident which led to his car being struck by a train.

Steven McElwee, 30, was under the influence of drink and drugs when he crashed his Hyundai through a locked gate and ended up on the tracks near the town’s main railway station.

A short time later, a train careered into the vehicle but McElwee, who was still inside, avoided serious injury.

The incident, which took place on August 15 last year, cost rail operators tens of thousands of pounds.

McElwee admitted a charge of culpable and reckless conduct at Paisley Sheriff Court last month and returned to the dock on Friday to learn his fate.

The earlier hearing was told how the incident took place at the railway line near the junctions of Shanks Crescent and Janefield Avenue.

Procurator Fiscal Depute David McDonald said McElwee’s car ploughed through a locked gate and ended up on the tracks.

He added: “A witness who was walking nearby heard a noise and a faint car alarm. He observed the railway access gate on the ground, still chained together, and observed the vehicle sitting on the railway tracks.”

A train then approached, with the driver hitting the emergency brake, but it was unable to stop in time and struck the rear of the Hyundai IX35 SE.

The emergency services raced to the scene and McElwee was taken to hospital to be checked over.

Almost £20,000 worth of damage to the train was caused, with rail operators also suffering £27,647 costs through loss of service that day.

The court was told McElwee had been diagnosed with a mental health condition which was not known at the time of the crash.

Sentencing McElwee, Sheriff David Pender expressed sympathy for his “many difficulties.”

However, he added: “This is diluted because you had consumed alcohol before the incident and then caused £19,000 worth of damage to ScotRail and £27,000 worth of disruption to its services.”

In 2012, McElwee was convicted of rape after a four-day trial at the High Court in Paisley.

He pounced on his 19-year-old victim in a tenement close in Johnstone on October 16, 2010, just minutes after meeting her.