Tour bus crash driver fails to appear in court

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The German driver of an American metal band’s tour coach which crashed near Bath has failed to appear in court for the second time after claiming he is too ill to travel to the UK.

Norman Markus was due at Bath Magistrates Court to face charges in connection with last year’s incident which saw the band Baroness’s coach plunge 30ft over the side of the A36 at the bottom of Brassknocker Hill, in Monkton Combe.

At the first hearing, which took place earlier in May, his defence lawyer said he would not be appearing because the summons issued was invalid.

District Judge Lynne Matthews said: “I have seen correspondence from the defence solicitors which indicate the defendant is receiving treatment from his doctor regarding his physical and mental state of health which would make it difficult or impossible for the defendant to return to the UK at the moment.

“The defence solicitors have been constructive in their representations to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and have assisted the prosecution service with actively managing the case.

“I have been provided with a letter from a senior chief prosecutor which raises the question as to whether it would be possible for a video link between the defendant’s home and this court.”

The case has now been adjourned until the beginning of July for the defence to provide medical certificates, proving that Markus is not well enough to travel to the UK. However, the CPS has said if this does not happen then it will issue a European arrest warrant.

Markus, whose lawyer was also not in court, is charged with a number of driving offences, including not taking enough rest breaks, dangerous driving, using a vehicle with defective brakes and breaching the road’s weight limit. He was seriously injured in the crash, undergoing surgery on his pelvis and was treated at Frenchay Hospital, in Bristol, for a number of weeks. The coach had been on its way from a gig in Bristol to the band’s next venue, in Southampton, at the time of the crash, which happened last August.

Baroness’s guitarist John Baizley suffered a broken arm and leg, drummer Allen Blickle and bassist Matt Maggioni suffered fractured vertebrae, while guitarist Pete Adams escaped with minor injuries. Blickle and Maggioni both later left the band because of the severity of their injuries.