School bus driver Roger Wells, 63, injured 12 pupils when he slammed on the brakes on his bus in a fit of rage, Lewes Crown Court has heard.
One schoolboy on the top deck needed treatment after the driver hit the brakes so hard that he was flung forward and slammed into the front windscreen, causing it to crack.
Children had irritated him by repeatedly ringing the bell and he reacted by hitting the brakes hard. The court was told the extreme force used by Mr Wells hitting the brakes caused children on the bus to scream in panic.
A jury heard Mr Wells lost his temper and swore at the children after the bell used to stop the bus was rung continuously.
Prosecutor Richard Barton said the driver’s “red mist descended” as he was driving children home from Uplands Community College in Wadhurst, East Sussex, on October 17, 2018, after he shouted at the kids to stop ringing the bell.
School bus driver Roger Wells, 63, arrives at Lewes Crown Court wearing a face mask © copyright GlobalNet Pictures
“This case, sadly, is about this defendant who behaved in a way which was manifestly reckless, dangerous. One or many more of the children on this very crowded bus repeatedly rang the bell for it to stop. No matter how annoying this was, it cannot be a justification for what happened after,” said Mr Barton, who told the jury that parents and pupils have a legitimate expectation they will be safe when travelling on a school bus.
The double decker bus, supplied by Hams Travel, with a capacity for 84 inside, was overloaded with 98 children on board. Uplands Community College is a secondary school with students aged 11-18.
Top deck of a Hams Travel double decker bus
“He’s an adult, they’re on his bus, they say he swore at them and said ‘stop ringing the bell’. It didn’t stop, he went upstairs and shouted the same. He was clearly losing his temper.
“This is all about the red mist descending. This is about anger. It caused him to do something he wouldn’t normally do. He drove off, children will say faster than usual. Those standing up were swaying. Unfortunately somebody on that bus carried on ringing the bell and that was the trigger. He stopped with such force, that a pole was wrenched out and some ended up on the floor and the pole hit other children sitting down.
A Hams Travel double decker
“Every child was thrown forward. Upstairs the same occurred. One of the children had just got up because he was about to get off. He was at the top of the stairs. That boy was propelled forward so his head hit the front windscreen with such force that it broke the windscreen. There were children crying, extremely traumatised, trying to phone their parents.”
© copyright GlobalNet Pictures
The driver got out of his cab and stepped over children lying in the gangway to replace the pole which had been ripped off. Mr Barton said:
“He did what he’d threatened and drove back to the school.
“He certainly didn’t stop, having been involved in a road traffic accident. He didn’t check on any of the children. When he got back to the school, he left the bus and closed the door behind him.”
© copyright GlobalNet Pictures
Wells denies driving without due care and attention and failing to stop at the scene of an accident.
The trial at Lewes Crown Court continues…
Create an account and login to see what images are available to download below this story.
Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Linkedin #globalnetpictures #GlobalNet_Pics #RogerWells #busdriver #brakes #fitofrage #LewesCrownCourt #Losthistemper #UplandsCommunityCollege #Wadhurst #EastSussex #drivingwithoutduecareandattention #failingtostop #ringingthebell