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Bus driver banned after fatal crash

PUBLISHED: 15:16 04 June 2003 | UPDATED: 13:57 03 March 2010

A MINIBUS driver was today banned from driving for six months on charges relating to an accident that killed a woman on a Suffolk road.

Robert Chapman, 26, of Oakmead Road, Point Clear, St Osyth, in Essex, was fined £75 and ordered to pay £40 court costs.

A MINIBUS driver was today banned from driving for six months on charges relating to an accident that killed a woman on a Suffolk road.

Robert Chapman, 26, of Oakmead Road, Point Clear, St Osyth, in Essex, was fined £75 and ordered to pay £40 court costs.

Samantha Hoe, 22, of Belle Vue Road, Wivenhoe, was killed in the crash on Monday, July 8 last year.

South East Suffolk Magistrates Court heard how Chapman had just started working for Helping Hands Recruitment Company the previous day.

At 5.30pm Chapman, who was driving a Ford Mini Bus picked workers up from Clacton and was to take them to Wisbech.

Soon after he filled his van up with diesel at Weeley garages and he could smell fuel. He continued to drive but the vehicle was described as sluggish and unresponsive.

He stopped again at Bury garages and realised there was a slight fuel leak. He telephoned his dad, who in turn telephoned his employers who told him to abandon his journey to Wisbech.

He asked if the vehicle could be recovered but the company's insurance said this was not possible. They said to abandon his journey and return to Clacton.

Chapman was in the mini bus with one front seat passenger who was wearing a seat belt and four passengers in the back who were not.

Chapman asked the passengers if they wanted to continue their journey back to Clacton, they agreed to. There had been a downpour in Ipswich, the mini bus was travelling in the near side lane of the A12 near Stratford St Mary, at a left hand bend the vehicle veered left and Chapman lost control.

The vehicle then lifted in the air and it landed on its off side. Passenger Samantha Hoe was thrown from her seat and the vehicle later landed on top of her.

She was taken to Colchester General Hospital suffering from serious head injuries but later died. No other person in the mini bus was injured.

The court heard how Chapman, who admitted a charge of careless driving, had not driven since the accident but had five points already on his license from a previous dangerous driving case.

Jack Chapman, chair of the bench said: "This is a very unfortunate matter and considerably different from other careless driving cases. This is on a different limb altogether.

"You recognised the vehicle was not roadworthy but still drove it, though I will give you credit for the guilty plea.

"You did recognise a problem and you did all you could at the time. You pulled into a garage and then sought out some advice.

"Unfortunately the advice you got was not the best. You had to decide what to do and you did not recognise the danger of the situation. The danger of fuel causing steering problems was something you were not aware of."

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