A SECURITY guard who was a stickler for punctuality died after he drove round a level crossing barrier and was hit by a train, an inquest has heard.

Dennis France, 65, of Athelney, may have believed the half barrier at Athelney level crossing was stuck, the hearing in Taunton yesterday (Thursday) was told.

His friend and neighbour, Alison Chedham, said Mr France, who worked for Debenhams in Taunton, was proud of his record of never having arrived late for work.

Daniel Hembrow, who was driving towards the crossing, described how he saw Mr France's car roll back before moving forward around the barrier.

Train driver William Ashman said he saw the car appear about 100 yards in front of him.

"It all happened so quickly," said Mr Ashman.

"The car was driving across - it hadn't stopped on the crossing.

"Fortunately the train didn't derail. I couldn't believe what had happened."

The inquest continues, with the jury of 11 visiting the scene of the tragedy this morning.