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Bus death was tragic timing, judge rules
A BUS driver who killed a passenger as he ran alongside trying to catch the last service home walked free after a judge said it was a “tragic coincidence”.
David Luck was yesterday told he had been careless and should have noticed Paul Siddoway next to the Arriva X66 Middlesbrough to Darlington coach on October 24 last year.
But Judge John Walford ruled that a wing mirror on the bus did not provide an adequate view along the nearside, and described the night-time incident as “a tragedy of timing”.
The judge said: “Mr Siddoway was at the only point at which this accident could have happened at the very moment that the front wheel of the bus turned to make it happen.
“The evidence in the trial showed clearly that had there not been this coincidence of movement by the bus to the presence of Mr Siddoway, this tragedy would not have occurred.”
During a trial last month, the jury heard how Luck, 59, picked up three passengers, but drove off without Mr Siddoway, who was carrying his dog, when he lit a cigarette.
Mr Siddoway, 40, ran alongside the coach trying to attract the driver’s attention, but was swept under the front wheel when Luck turned to negotiate a way out of the station.
Rod Hunt, mitigating, told the court: “One of the great ironies of this case is that Mr Siddoway left his place of safety – the kerb – and walked onto the road . . . the tragedy of timing.
“The great tragedy is that he arrived at the bus itself just when the turning manoeuvre was just being commenced or partly gone through. We are talking about seconds, here.”
Teesside Crown Court heard that Luck resigned from his job of 20 years after the accident and is now surviving on his dwindling savings and living in a residential caravan. Mr Hunt said he was “overwhelmed” by regret and also cancelled his wedding because he felt it was wrong to go through with any form of celebration after what had happened.
Luck, of Bowes Court, Darlington, was cleared of causing death by dangerous driving, but a jury convicted him of the lesser charge of causing death by careless driving.
Judge Walford yesterday imposed a nine-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, with 240 hours of unpaid community work, and banned Luck from driving for three years.
He said: “This is a truly tragic case, not just for the deceased but for his family as well, and not just for the defendant – a decent, hard-working man – but also for his family.
“I am satisfied from what I have read and from my assessment of the defendant during the course of the trial, that he did deeply feel the remorse and the guilt for what he had done.”