Road ban for school bus driver

A SCHOOL bus driver was today banned from the road after he admitted driving through a level crossing as a train approached.

A SCHOOL bus driver was today banned from the road after he admitted driving through a level crossing as a train approached.

Keith McGeorge told South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court he had failed to hear a warning siren or spot flashing red lights at the crossing in Melton because he was distracted by unruly pupils.

The incident took place on May 18 as McGeorge drove the double-decker with 65 pupils from Woodbridge's Farlingaye High School onboard.

Neil Saunders, mitigating, said his client had been distracted by a “commotion” on the lower deck as he approached the crossing.

He said pupils using the bus had “no discipline” and had “run riot”, adding that their behaviour had been “at its worst”

“Teachers look after 30 children and he (McGeorge) has to look after 65 with no conductor,” said Mr Saunders.

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He said the crossing's warning lights were not properly aligned, making it difficult for his client to see them as he approached.

Witnesses described a “look of horror” on train driver Ian Woods' face as he approached the crossing and saw the bus.

In a statement read to the court by prosecutor Naomi Turner, Mr Woods admitted he had not classed the incident as a “near miss”, but said McGeorge, of Castle Street, Woodbridge, had put his passengers at risk.

The effect of the incident had been “cataclysmic” on McGeorge, the court heard. The defendant instantly lost his job and had not worked since.

Mr Saunders said McGeorge had been prescribed medication for depression and stress, and had suffered a loss of self esteem.

The 52-year-old, who pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity to a charge of failing to comply with an indication given by a traffic sign, was banned from driving for two months.

He was also ordered to pay a £100 fine, £45 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

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