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Bus operator admits failing to prevent risks linked to crash that killed Catholic schoolboy

Thu 14 Sep 2017
By Press Association

A bus operator has expressed its sorrow over a fatal crash after failing to prevent risks of "driver error" linked to fatigue and excessive working hours.

Midland Red (South) Ltd pleaded guilty to two charges brought under Health and Safety law after an inquiry into the 2015 deaths of a Catholic schoolboy who was a passenger, and a pedestrian in Coventry city centre.

The firm's solicitor entered guilty pleas to both charges at Coventry Magistrates' Court a week after 79-year-old bus driver Kailash Chander appeared before JPs charged with causing death by dangerous driving.

The firm, which was committed for sentence at Warwick Crown Court, admitted a charge of failing to ensure the safety of employees between April 2015 and the day of the fatal crash six months later.

The second charge admitted by the company stated that it failed to ensure members of the public were not exposed to risks to their safety arising out of the driving of public service vehicles by Chander.

Aaron Chown/PA Wire
Managing director of Midland Red bus operator, Steve Burd, as he leaves Coventry Magistrates' Court last week after a previous hearing, where Midland Red (South) Ltd, today pleaded guilty to two charges brought under Health and Safety law after an inquiry into the 2015 deaths of a passenger and a pedestrian in Coventry city centre.

 

Covering the same dates at the first charge, the second admitted count stated that the firm failed to prevent or control risks of driver error "due to lack of capability and/or fatigue and/or working hours, which were excessive in the circumstances."

Bus passenger Rowan Fitzgerald, aged seven, and 76-year-old pedestrian Dora Hancox were both pronounced dead at the scene of the crash in Trinity Street, Coventry.

 

Rowan was a pupil at St Anthony's Catholic Primary School in Leamington Spa and Hancox was a foster carer from Nuneaton.

The managing director of Midland Red, Steve Burd, and its operations director, Jim Mortimore, attended court on behalf of the company, which is based at offices in Daw Bank, Stockport.

Addressing the court after the pleas were entered, the firm's solicitor, Andrew Dawson, expressed "profound condolences, regret and sorrow" over the crash, which saw a double-decker bus hit the side of a supermarket.

 

The facts of the safety breaches were not opened by prosecutor Michael Gregory, who told District Judge Lesley Mottram: "The prosecution submission is that this matter is so serious that you should use your powers to commit it to the Crown Court for sentencing."

The firm was ordered to appear at the higher court on October 6.

Chander, from Leamington, has yet to enter a plea and is due back in court on the same date.

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