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Why was this man made to suffer?

PUBLISHED: 14:01 26 July 2001 | UPDATED: 10:23 03 March 2010

AN IPSWICH bus driver with an exemplary record stretching back four decades is back at work after being put through the hell of a courtroom appearance over a minor accident.

AN IPSWICH bus driver with an exemplary record stretching back four decades is back at work today after being put through the hell of a courtroom appearance over a minor accident.

But today the Evening Star asks:

n WHY was bus driver Edwin Pratt made to suffer the stress of a court case hanging over his head for three months?

n Why did the Crown Prosecution Service pursue a prosecution in which two of the three driving offences he was accused of were dropped on the day of his trial?

n Why did magistrates give him an absolute discharge to the third charge even though he had pleaded guilty?

Mr Pratt, 61, of Sheldrake Drive, who has been driving for Ipswich Buses for 30 years, had originally been charged with careless driving and failing to stop at an accident.

But those charges were withdrawn by the CPS when he appeared for trial before South East Suffolk Magistrates Court.

This left Mr Pratt charged with failing to report an accident, to which he changed his plea to guilty.

After hearing evidence, magistrates gave Mr Pratt, who has a clean driving licence and no previous convictions, an absolute discharge. No costs were awarded to the CPS.

Today, Mr Pratt's wife Maureen said the case had "really knocked him for six".

"It took him ten weeks to get back on his feet again," she said of her husband. "It had a dreadful effect on him. We just want to forget about it now and put it behind us. He's been so upset."

Mrs Pratt, 55, also praised her husband's employers and colleagues for their support during the court ordeal.

"His friends and colleagues and the bus company have been wonderful," she said. "Ipswich Buses has backed him 100 per cent. They have all rallied around."

In a hearing at South East Suffolk Magistrates Court Mr Pratt was described by one of his bosses as "exemplary, loyal, hard working and reliable."

He had been involved in a collision with a pedestrian in St Matthew's Street on March 14.

Nigel Clack, who was drunk at the time of the accident, sustained an injured ankle in the collision.

Passengers aboard the bus attended the victim. They told Mr Pratt that Mr Clack was not injured and he continued with his journey.

In keeping with Ipswich Buses company policy the driver completed his trip before reporting the accident.

However at about 4pm, approximately 40 minutes after the accident, Mr Pratt returned to the bus station to find police waiting to interview him who later charged him with the motoring offences.

Answering questions from defence solicitor Tony Smyth, Mr Pratt said: "I proceeded to carry on with my journey,

bearing in mind I was a few minutes late.

"I was following company procedure to get back to Electric House (Tower Ramparts) and report the accident and make a report out and, if necessary, go to the police station."

William Scott, commercial manager of Ipswich Buses, described Mr Pratt as an exemplary member of staff and had been complying with company policy.

In sentencing, Donna Hindmarch, chairman of the bench, said that the magistrates accepted that Mr Pratt was following company policy and that that was a mitigating feature.

Today a spokesman for the CPS said: "All cases are considered individually on their merits and in the circumstances of this particular case, it was felt appropriate not to proceed on the allegation of careless driving. This charge was discontinued prior to the trial."

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