Somerset

Baroness tour bus plunge driver will 'never' attend court

The driver of a coach that plunged 30ft (9m) from a viaduct near Bath will "never" attend court to face charges against him, his lawyer has said.

Norman Markus, a German national, was driving the band Baroness at the time of the crash.

His barrister, Jonathan Turner, told Bath magistrates the summons served on his client to attend court was not valid because it was served in Germany.

The CPS said it was working with the police to establish how to proceed.

Several members of the US band were seriously injured in the crash, at Brassknocker Hill, Monkton Combe, with one suffering a broken arm and leg.

Summons 'a nullity'

Mr Markus had been summonsed to attend the court on Friday for a preliminary hearing.

The CPS said in February he was to be charged with dangerous driving, using a vehicle with defective brakes and breaching a 7.5 tonne weight limit.

It said he was also facing charges of taking insufficient daily and weekly rest periods, using a vehicle in a condition likely to cause danger of injury, and not having the correct licence entitlement to drive the coach involved in the crash.

But Mr Turner told magistrates that if Mr Markus chose not to attend court "nothing can be done" because the summons was not served in the UK.

"If he ever re-enters the country a summons can be served upon him," he added.

"Our position is the summons is a nullity and he has no reason to attend."

'Allowed to return'

Mr Turner added: "You can't issue a warrant for his arrest unless he re-enters the UK and a summons is served on him.

"The problem is he's not going to come to this court. How are you going to get him here? I say I'm afraid you can't."

Prosecuting solicitor Lesley Ness asked for the case to be put back for inquiries to be made "as to whether the summons was served or not served".

"It's the Crown's application to adjourn to get Mr Markus to the court," she said.

CPS reviewing lawyer Andrew Walters told the BBC: "Mr Markus was allowed to return to Germany to assist his recovery from the injuries sustained from the crash.

"We fully expected him to return to face the charges against him and until today had received no indication from the defence to the contrary.

"The CPS, police and courts will now work together to establish how best to proceed but there is no suggestion of a discontinuance at this stage."

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