Bus driver tried over death 'stepped on accelerator instead of brake pedal'

A bus driver stepped on the accelerator instead of the brake pedal before his single-decker knocked down and killed a shopper, a jury was told.

Michael Gilbert took a safety "short cut" by not putting his vehicle in neutral as he waited at a bus stop in Darlington town centre, Teesside Crown Court heard.

The bus killed Eileen Brennan, 85, and badly injured Tracy Naisbitt whose leg was crushed against a shop window after the vehicle crashed into a bank in Northgate.

Eileen Brennan died after a bus crash in Darlington (Durham Police/PA)
Eileen Brennan died after a bus crash in Darlington (Durham Police/PA)

Mrs Naisbitt's mother Trudy Bowe "miraculously" sustained only minor injuries in the collision in July 2016, the jury heard.

Gilbert, 53, of Middleton St George, County Durham, denies causing death by dangerous driving and causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

Simon Reevell, prosecuting, said Gilbert had parked his bus at a stop in Northgate and had lowered it to allow passengers on and off before it zoomed across the carriageway.

He said: "Mrs Brennan's tragic death, Mrs Naisbitt's awful injuries and Mrs Bowe's terrifying experience were all caused by Mr Gilbert pressing the accelerator of his bus when he should have been pressing the brake.

"He did that because he took a short cut, not in terms of route, but in terms of safety procedure.

"He had been trained how to drive his bus in a safe way and he chose to ignore that training with these consequences."

Had he put the bus into neutral, he would only have been able to put it back into gear if he had pressed the brake pedal, the prosecution said.

Instead, Gilbert held the bus on the handbrake and kept it in gear, the court heard.

After the collision he was arrested and told police there was a mechanical fault with the vehicle, but later tests found there were none.

The jury was shown CCTV footage of the collision from several angles.

Mr Reevell said: "The prosecution case is very simple.

"If you are taught a safe way of doing something and if you take a short cut that has dangers attached to it, and if you cause one of those dangers to happen, then you are driving dangerously."

The trial continues on Tuesday.

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