Head ‘tailed’ careless bus driver

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A HEADTEACHER followed a school bus driver in his Land Rover because of concerns over his driving.

Andrew Nicholson, headteacher of Beyton Middle School, told a court this week: “I wouldn’t have wanted my own child travelling on that bus.”

On Tuesday, after a two-day trial, Alwyne Clive Clarke, 70, of School Road, Elmswell, was found guilty of driving a Mulleys coach with 51 pupils on board, along a route from Beyton Middle School to Rattlesden, without due care and attention.

Prosecuting, Anne Gray said that in Beyton Road, Drinkstone, on November 17 last year, four children on the coach were hurt when they struck the seats in front due to Clarke’s ‘bad driving’.

She said one week earlier, having received complaints from parents about the standard of Clarke’s driving, Mr Nicholson had followed the coach in his Land Rover.

“I felt at times he was breaking the speed limit but what concerned me more was the driving down some of the very narrow lanes which was excessive in the situation, carrying a coach full of children,” Mr Nicholson told the court.

Three children, who cannot be named for legal reasons, gave evidence.

“The bus stopped quickly and I fell forward and hit my wrist. We carried on going and stopped quickly again and I fell forward and hit my mouth and cut my top lip,” said a 10-year-old.

A 13-year-old said: “We were travelling down a really narrow road quite fast. He slammed the brakes on quite quickly, all of a sudden, and we all jolted forward. It really hurt where our seat belts were and some of us hit our heads.”

Another 13-year-old, who hit his head and cut his knuckle, said: “There was a car coming the other way and the bus driver slammed his brakes on because we were going quite fast, so that we didn’t crash.”

In mitigation, Carolyn Evans said the children’s injuries were ‘slight’ and had not required medical attention.

She said that Clarke, who had driven coaches for 51 years, had a ‘long and impeccable career as a professional driver’ and could not remember braking sharply.

Finding Clarke guilty of careless driving, District Judge David Cooper said: “He will have to accept, as I have, that they were hurt on the bus. Clearly it shouldn’t have happened, it was an error of judgement and it seems to me that for that moment when it did happen, he must have been driving quicker than is prudent and had to apply the brakes sharply.”

Clarke’s licence was endorsed with three penalty points. He received a £100 fine and was ordered to pay costs of £350 and a victim surcharge of £15.