A man who drove through a railway level crossing as the barriers were descending claimed he was trying to avoid a crash – with a car which had stopped for the red light.

Franck Laviolette drove a car dangerously through the level crossing at Ardrossan Town Station on November 29 of last year.

He crossed the solid white line while the red light was flashing and overtook another vehicle, which had stopped to observe the crossing.

Laviolette, 41, appeared at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court and pled guilty to one charge under the Road Traffic Act.

The court heard that on the date of the offence, a police staff member was within a mobile camera vehicle monitoring the Princes Street crossing.

At around 11.30am, the witness saw the crossing’s traffic lights were flashing red, signalling that a train was oncoming. A car then drove through the crossing and overtook another vehicle which had stopped. This was despite the light flashing red for several seconds and the barriers beginning to descend.

Laviolette, who is originally from France but now lives at Moorpark Road West in Stevenston, represented himself in court last week. He declined the offer of a court translator.

Sheriff Michael Hanlon explained to Laviolette: “You’re going to be disqualified, that’s an automatic to a Section 2 offence.”

The sheriff then asked: “Why were you in such a rush?”

Laviolette replied: “I was not in a rush but the car in front of me just stopped and I thought if I braked I would have bumped into his back so to avoid a crash I thought I would go.

“I know what I did was wrong.”

Sheriff Hanlon disqualified Laviolette from holding or obtaining a licence for a year and ordered him to pass an extended driving test. He also sentenced him to 100 hours of unpaid work in the community within three months.

The sheriff warned Laviolette: “This is a serious offence. That kind of action can lead to death on railway tracks.

“The warning signs are there for a reason.”