YOUNGSTERS are dicing with death on a trouble-hit railway line by forcing open carriage doors while the train is MOVING.

A trial at the sheriff court has heard shocking evidence about how schoolboys are prising them ajar on the line between Branchton and Whinhill.

This causes trains to grind to a halt before systems can be reset, the town's sheriff court was told.

The shocking behaviour came to light during the course of a case which resulted in a man being found not guilty of assaulting two boys onboard the service.

Mark McKee, 33, had been charged with repeatedly striking a 13-year-old's head against a window and slapping a 14-year-old on the face.

But he was cleared after Sheriff Andrew McIntyre believed his account of what happened during the journey on April 17 last year.

Mr McKee told the court: "Since I started using the train two or three years ago I've been aware of an ongoing problem, always on a Monday and Tuesday."

Asked how bad the problem was, he replied: "The ticket inspector doesn't come out, put it that way."

Shopworker Mr McKee told how he was travelling on his way to work when he saw a group of up to seven youths crowded around one of the doors.

He admitted he lost his temper and confronted one of them after the door was opened, but denied carrying ourtany assault.

He said: "I just had enough and my anger got the better of me. I started to shout and bawl at them. I'm not going to deny that.

"I went to say to them, 'What the hell are you doing — get a grip'."

Mr McKee added: "Others were annoyed too because they were late for work, and one had already got a written warning.

"I had my finger in the boy's face.

"I know I shouldn't have reacted, but in a way I had to.

"I saw the boy keep opening the doors.

"His friends helped him but most of the time it was him."

Sheriff McIntyre upheld a no case to answer submission on one charge and found Mr McKee not guilty of the other after two schoolboy witnesses gave conflicting evidence about the events.

The court heard how Mr McKee, when cautioned and charged by police, stated: "I confronted the boys and shouted at them, however, I didn't touch either of them."

Sheriff McIntyre told Mr McKee: "I believed your evidence and find you not guilty."

The sheriff added: "It is a complete disgrace that a train and its passengers are not only delayed because of this behaviour, but safety is being jeopardised as well.

"It is quite plainly a disgrace and if this behaviour continues something has to be done about it.

"It is dangerous behaviour."