Wheelchair user in bus row

WHEELCHAIR user, Irwin Francis has been banned from all Ipswich Buses' vehicles after assaulting a driver and handcuffing himself to a bus.Francis, of London Road, Ipswich staged a one-man protest after he was refused access to the bus earlier this year.

WHEELCHAIR user, Irwin Francis has been banned from all Ipswich Buses' vehicles after assaulting a driver and handcuffing himself to a bus.

Francis, of London Road, Ipswich staged a one-man protest after he was refused access to the bus earlier this year.

A district judge at Ipswich magistrates court heard how the 60-year-old, who has used a wheelchair for four years, tried to board a bus at Tower Ramparts in the town but was refused as he had had a run-in with the driver of that bus in the past.

But the situation hotted up when Francis decided to try and chain himself to the bus in protest at the decision. He had taken the cuffs along with him in case the same situation happened again.

Off duty-driver William Riley stepped in to help his colleague and asked Mr Francis to leave, but got more than he bargained for, for his trouble after Francis hit him on the hand injuring his thumb.

Francis was arrested and charged with common assault and appeared at Ipswich magistrates court on Thursday where he pleaded guilty.

Most Read

Sandra Dyer, reading Mr Riley's statement for the prosecution, said: “The male looked at me and became abusive and started swearing.

“He pushed himself through the queue in a wheelchair and I saw him reach down through his groin area and hold out what appeared to be handcuffs.

“I thought he was going to handcuff himself to the bus and I positioned myself between him and the bus and said don't do anything stupid.”

Francis then put his hands above his head and hit Mr Riley with a downward blow, injuring him on the lower joint of his left thumb.

In the furore Francis then attached himself to the plastic door rail of the bus.

Speaking after the hearing, Francis said: “I thought I would take the cuffs with me and try it to see what happened. It wasn't intentional to hit anyone. I just wanted to get on the bus.

“I did unattach myself eventually and was there for about ten minutes.”

Meanwhile the passengers on the bus were escorted on to another vehicle to get to their destinations.

Francis claims he acted in self-defence after Mr Riley pushed him, although Ms Dyer said witnesses denied that was the case.

Since the incident Francis has been banned from all Ipswich Buses and now spends an hour every day wheeling himself into town.

He has leukaemia and the condition has caused his legs to swell making it difficult to walk.

Sentencing Francis, District Judge David Cooper, said: “You are a bit old for this Mr Francis. It is a shame for a man of 60 with no previous convictions, obviously in very ill health.”

Francis received a one-year conditional discharge and was ordered to pay Mr Riley compensation of £100.

N What do you think of Mr Francis' actions? Write to us at Evening Star Letters, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk>

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter