Glasgow & West Scotland

Rangers bus driver 'blamed brakes' for death crash

Ryan Baird Image copyright PoliceScotland/RyanRowe
Image caption Ryan Baird died in the crash as fans made their way to the Rangers v Partick Thistle game

The driver of a Rangers supporters' bus which crashed killing a fan blamed the brakes when he was interviewed by police, a court has heard.

Callum Phillips, 49, allegedly told officers: "The brakes weren't working. I pressed them, there was nothing."

The High Court in Glasgow heard Mr Phillips was asked during the interview if driver error was to blame.

He replied: "I would have said it was the brakes. I wouldn't have said it was me."

Mr Phillips denies killing 39-year-old Ryan Baird, from Sanquhar in Dumfries and Galloway, by dangerous driving.

The bus driver told officers that he had successfully negotiated the Crossroads Roundabout in Kilmarnock where the crash happened hundreds of times.

Mr Phillips, from Dalbeattie, is alleged to have caused the Nith Valley Rangers supporters' bus to crash on 1 October 2016.

Image copyright Google
Image caption The crash happened at the Crossroads Roundabout near Kilmarnock

Mr Baird died at the scene from injures to his chest and abdomen.

He and 36 fellow Rangers fans were travelling to Glasgow for a home match against Partick Thistle.

During the police interview, Mr Phillips was asked about the fact the bus tachograph showed that on his journey along the A76 he was driving at 62mph for some time.

At one point, 15 minutes before the crash, it is claimed he was recorded doing 73mph.

Mr Phillips told the officers: "I believed the maximum speed on that bus was 62mph. I don't think I was doing 73mph."

The jury has heard that the speed limit for buses on that road is 50mph.

Mr Phillips was then asked what speed he thought he was doing and said: "I reckon I'm doing 50 at that roundabout. I tried to press the brakes. I pressed the brakes and it didn't work."

'Not slowing down'

Det Con Scott Barr, who interviewed Mr Phillips, asked him: "Why do you think the bus did not stop," and he replied: "No brakes. It was not slowing me down like it should have."

Prosecutor Richard Goddard asked DC Barr: "Did Mr Phillips, who has been driving for 27 years, say to you he was doing 50mph a hundred feet from the roundabout and he was not able to give a figure for the braking distance?" The officer replied: "That's correct."

Mr Goddard then said: "He was recorded as going at 73mph and he said he thought the bus wouldn't go at more than 62mph," and DC Barr replied: "Yes.'

The prosecutor then asked: "Did he ever seem aware he had been driving at the speeds he had been?" The officer responded: "No."

Mr Goddard later questioned Mr Phillips about why passengers and a woman motorist driving behind him before the crash had criticised the speed and style of his driving.

He replied: "Because there has been an accident, everyone has it in for me."

Mr Goddard then said: "Are you saying, because there has been an accident you think people have come to court to tell lies?"

Mr Phillips said: "It feels like that, just because there's been an accident they are saying I was too fast. I've never had complaints about my driving."

The trial before judge Lady Stacey continues.

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