Parents' anger at fatal crash court case
HEARTBROKEN parents last night spoke of their anguish that they were denied the chance to see the man responsible for their son's death face justice.Bob and Jackie Dines had waited for months for lorry driver Frank Schade to face trial for the horrific crash in Cologne, Germany, that claimed the life of their 14-year-old son Stuart.
HEARTBROKEN parents last night spoke of their anguish that they were denied the chance to see the man responsible for their son's death face justice.
Bob and Jackie Dines had waited for months for lorry driver Frank Schade to face trial for the horrific crash in Cologne, Germany, that claimed the life of their 14-year-old son Stuart.
The teenager was on a skiing trip with fellow pupils from Thomas Mills High School in Framlingham when the fatal crash happened on February 11.
Last week, Schade, 33, appeared in court in Kerpen and was given a two-year suspended jail sentence after being convicted of causing death through negligence.
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Stuart's parents said they had hoped, as part of the grieving process, to see the face of the man who robbed them of their “fun-loving lad” - but they did not travel to Germany because they had been told the court appearance was only an initial hearing.
In a written statement, they told of the “anguish” and “bewilderment” they have suffered because of the way the court case had been handled - and said they had not been kept informed of developments by the German authorities.
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They added their daughter, Rachel, felt let down by a legal system which she claimed has “undervalued the life of her brother”.
Mr and Mrs Dines, from Woodbridge, said: “The loss of Stuart remains; he had such a great personality and was a fun-loving lad who cared for and helped anyone. Never a day passes without thinking of him.
“Since Stuart's death, we have been bewildered and not really been given a lot of information about what has been happening, at times we have heard via the press before we've known from anyone else.”
They explained: “We were aware of the initial trial in Germany, but understood that this was not to be the main trial.
“We wanted to be at the hearing as a part of our grieving process and to see the person who killed our son.
“The trial has now taken place, and the person responsible has been given a sentence, which we understand involves community service, but not a prison sentence. Again we have only heard this through the press.
“Our daughter feels that the sentence given by the judge has completely devalued the life of her brother.”
They also called for a change in the legal system to stop people being left in the dark if their relatives are involved in an accident overseas.
“We hope that everyone would agree that as Stuart's parents, we should be the first to be given the information, instead of hearing about it through the media,” they said.
“There are thousands of young people who go on school trips to foreign countries and hundreds of thousands who go on holiday abroad. Thankfully accidents of this kind are rare, but they do happen. “Perhaps there isn't a better system for keeping informed grieving families of developments and court cases in foreign countries. There needs to be.”
Suffolk police said they understood the frustrations of the family as they had tried to gather information for them.
A force spokesman said: “We kept the family informed of all information that was passed to us by the Foreign and Commonwealth Offices but we were dependent on what the German authorities were telling us.
“We made repeated requests to be kept informed so we could pass on this information and were told that the court appearance would be a first appearance and that there would be other dates.”
Stuart and his schoolfriends had been on their way to Fugen, in Austria, for a half-term ski-ing trip when the accident happened.
Their bus had suffered a puncture and was parked legally on the hard shoulder of the motorway with its hazard lights flashing.
Schade's truck crashed into the double-decker bus and Stuart was killed when the metal rods on the truck smashed through one of the coach windows.
Last night the German embassy and the Foreign Office said they were unable to comment on the Dines' concerns at this stage.