York & North Yorkshire

Easingwold School bus flood rescue: Driver jailed

Graham Jones Image copyright PA
Image caption Graham Jones had denied dangerous driving

A school bus driver whose vehicle became stranded in floodwater with 23 pupils on board has been jailed for a year.

Graham Jones, 53, had driven past two road closed signs ahead of the incident between Newton-on-Ouse and Tollerton, near York, on 5 January.

He denied dangerous driving but was convicted following a trial.

Jones, of Linton Woods Lane, Linton-on-Ouse, was also handed a 36-month driving ban at York Crown Court.

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Judge Paul Batty QC told Jones he had shown "vaunted arrogance" during his evidence and did not understand why he had not pleaded guilty given the evidence against him.

The bus was transporting the pupils on an eight-mile (12km) journey to Easingwold School on the first day back following the Christmas holiday.

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Media captionNearly 30 children had to be rescued from the bus
Image copyright Ross Parry
Image caption The school children were left standing in water after the bus became stuck

Jones had driven through one stretch of water without incident but got stuck when he attempted to drive through a second stretch, the court heard.

Prosecutors said he had driven past two road closed signs, although Jones claimed he had only seen one and thought it referred to a bridge closure nearby.

He told the court he had made a "genuine mistake".

In sentencing, Judge Batty said Jones had refused to accept the amount of danger he put the children in because of his "reckless act".

He said: "This was an extremely bad case of dangerous driving.

"The consequences that could have followed simply do not bear thinking about."

None of the secondary school pupils on board the bus was injured but some had to be carried to safety by firefighters.

Speaking after sentencing, a spokeswoman for North Yorkshire Police said: "It should send a clear warning to drivers not to ignore road closure signs that are put in place to protect people, and to heed the dangers of driving through floodwater."

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