AN 80-YEAR-OLD bus driver killed a young boy after he smashed his double-decker into a supermarket, a court heard today.
Kailash Chander is accused of becoming “confused” and pressing down the throttle instead of the break after he had worked three consecutive 75-hour weeks.
Birmingham Crown Court today heard Chander’s “shockingly bad driving” killed seven-year-old bus passenger Rowan Fitzgerald and 76-year-old pedestrian Dora Hancox in Coventry.
Jurors heard Chander, a former Leamington Spa mayor, had been warned about the deteriorating standard of his driving and been told not to drive when tired, before the crash in October 2015.
Chander, from Leamington, has been judged medically unfit to plead or stand trial, and has been excused from attending a “finding-of-facts” trial which began on Tuesday.
Opening the case against Chander, prosecution QC Andrew Thomas said he had been charged with two counts of causing death by dangerous driving and two of causing serious injury.
Explaining the facts alleged against Chander, Mr Thomas told the court: “The prosecution say that the collision was caused by a gross driver error.
“It appears that Mr Chander had not appreciated he had left the bus in ‘drive’ – that is, in gear – when he arrived at the stop on Hales Street.
“The bus started to move as soon as he took the handbrake off. Once the bus had started to move Mr Chander held his foot down on the throttle pedal instead of the brake, and that caused the bus to accelerate out of control.
“We suggest that the only possible explanation was that he had become confused over the controls of the bus. He thought that his foot was on the brake, but in fact he was accelerating hard.”
Mr Thomas said Chander did not apply the brakes until “some seconds” after the bus had crashed into the Sainsbury’s store, damaging the upper deck, and come to a halt.
The barrister added: “So, this appears to be the case of a driver – a professional driver carrying a large number of passengers on a double-decker bus – who put his foot down on the accelerator instead of pressing the brake.
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“And instead of realising his mistake, he kept his foot down on the accelerator throughout the journey. The prosecution say that by any objective standard it is shockingly bad driving.”
Mr Thomas told jurors that Chander will not give evidence during the trial, which will see the panel asked to consider whether or not the facts alleged have been proved.
The trial is expected to last until next week.
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