A WOMAN crashed her car into a level crossing causing damage needing more than £17,000 in repairs, holding up the rail network for more than seven hours.

Lauren Melanie Lewis, of Craven Arms, Shropshire admitted careless driving and failing to stop when she appeared at Welshpool Magistrates Court.

The court heard that the 22 year-old doctor's receptionist was driving her Volkswagen Polo towards Ludlow when she collided with the barrier at the Onibury Level Crossing.

Helen Tench, prosecuting, said the incident took place at around 1am on October 10 last year, nut no other vehicles were involved and the level crossing was not activated at the time.

A signal box worker called the police, and a HGV driver who arrived afterwards spoke to Lewis but she fled the scene on foot and did not leave her details.

Ms Tench added: "The following morning she contacted police to say her car was involved. The collision caused 425 minutes of delays to the rail network and the repairs amounted to more than £17,000."

Stephen Scully, defending, said that as Lewis was insured, repairs would likely be covered by the insurance.

He said: "She had recently received some very bad news, someone close to her had died and she decided to go out.

"She consumed one pint of alcohol that night but got distracted on the drive back.

"It was a momentary lapse of concentration, she did not slow down sufficiently and collided with the level crossing, writing off her own vehicle. She was very upset, panicked, was literally a rabbit in the headlights, and didn't want to stay and face the consequences at the time."

For leaving the scene, Chair of the magistrates bench Dr Rachel Jones handed Lewis a six month driving ban and a 12 momth community order to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work.

Lewis was also given a £230 fine for careless driving, and ordered to pay a £90 victim surcharge and £85 costs.