School bus driver cleared of charge

A school bus driver has been cleared of injuring two 12-year-old girls.

Anthony Colbourne, 68, was accused of losing his temper with the school children on his double decker bus and slamming on his brakes, causing one girl to break three fingers and another to fall on her face.

The incident happened in Rosabelle Avenue, Wivenhoe, during the afternoon school run from The Colne Community College in Brightlingsea on November 19 last year.

Mr Colbourne had denied driving without due care and diligence and was cleared at Harwich Magistrates’ Court yesterday.

Mr Colbourne of Washington Road, Dovercourt, said he was “relieved” it was over and he could move on after almost a year.

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“I have always maintained my innocence and I’m pleased that the court has recognised this,” said Mr Colbourne, who is also a Harwich town councillor. “As a bus driver I have always put the safety of my passengers first.

“The simple reason I had to brake was that I saw the front wheel of a bicycle come out from between two parked cars on the side of the road. Of course I regret that someone got hurt when I did this.”

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David Bryant, for the prosecution, had alleged that Mr Colbourne was not trying to avoid a bike, but had in fact “lost his temper” with the children who had started to stand up before the bus had come to a full stop.

Defending, Sorel Cameron said the account of the primary witness Michelle Armstrong, who was waiting to collect her son, had been shown to be “not credible” by CCTV footage, as she could not see what was in front of the bus or why it had stopped.

Evidence was also given by the two injured girls, who the court ruled should not be named by the press.

One of the girls, who had been sitting to the rear of the bus on the lower deck, said: “When the breaks were slammed on I fell to the left side and hit my head and my fingers on the metal bar.

“My fingers really, really hurt and I was crying. My friend had to walk me home and then my mum drove me to the hospital.”

The second girl, who was also on the lower deck, said: “I was standing up getting ready to get off the bus. When the bus stopped I fell face-first to the floor.”

Magistrate Mr Goodenough said: “The prosecution’s case has been that you were angry and you wanted to teach the children a lesson, but the evidence presented was that the anger followed and did not precede the event.”

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