Former Oxford Tube driver found guilty of careless driving
Mark Woodward, of Banbury, was found guilty of careless driving at Oxford Crown Court after being cleared of dangerous driving by a jury over the crash at junction 7 of the M40 in December.
He was fined £750, banned from driving for a year and must pay £100 costs for the crash which ended with the coach tipped on its side. There were 22 people injured in the incident.
Woodward was driving the 87-seat Oxford Tube Van Hool coach and crashed at Junction 7 of the M40 at around 2254hrs on December 11, 2010.
The court heard last week he had taken the wrong exit off the motorway and the coach flipped over as it hit a crash barrier.
A CCTV video shown in court showed Woodward realising his mistake and crashing the coach, before passengers’ screams are heard.
Some passengers suffered broken bones in the incident and considerable damage was caused to the £350,000 coach.
In all, 22 of the 32 passengers on board were injured. Five needed surgery and Woodward himself broke his back in two places.
He was sacked by Stagecoach in February following a disciplinary hearing.
Woodward had more than 20 years of experience as a bus driver and transferred from local bus services to the Oxford Tube two months before the accident.
Stagecoach spokesman Chris Child said: “We can confirm that, following an internal disciplinary investigation, the driver was dismissed in February 2011 and no longer works for our company.
“Our first thoughts continue to be with those who were affected by this incident.
“Safety is always our absolute priority. This case involved an experienced bus driver, who was given full and thorough training.
“This included detailed guidance on the route and advice on what to do in the event of a diversion.”
In his summing up speech, defence barrister Steve Molloy said: “This is an accident which happened in a matter of seconds.
“It was due to a minor misjudgement. It’s a minor mistake which has had catastrophic consequences.”
The prosecution’s case was Woodward had been inattentive and failed to read three signs labelling the junction.
Hugh Williams, prosecuting, said: “He hasn’t looked, he hasn’t been alert and he hasn’t been concentrating on the road.”