Bus driver walks free in mercy act over Horbury Road death crash

Horbury Road, Wakefield
Horbury Road, Wakefield

A double decker bus driver whose careless driving killed a pensioner has walked free from court.

Barry Richard Johnson, 47, was given an eight-month suspended jail sentence for causing the death of pedestrian Betty Bolton, 87, who was trying to catch the bus.

Leeds Crown Court heard how retired teacher Miss Bolton, a regular bus user, was believed to have been on her way to a service at Wakefield Cathedral when she was struck by Johnson’s city-bound 265 bus in Horbury Road on December 4, 2013.

Prosecutor Michael Smith said Miss Bolton, of nearby Cumbrian Way, was crossing the road and had her arm up as though she was gesturing to the bus. But she was knocked down and died two days later.

Johnson later told police he had seen her crossing but didn’t appreciate she was trying to catch the bus. He thought she had stopped. He then tried to avoid her but couldn’t.

Johnson, of previous good character, was originally charged with death by dangerous driving but the prosecution accepted his plea to causing death by careless driving.

Paul Fleming, mitigating, said the case involved a ‘momentary inattention’ but resulted in tragic consequences. He said his client was remorseful and had been left traumatised. He had also lost his job.

He urged Judge Neil Clark to pass a suspended sentence as an “act of mercy”.

The judge said: “This is the most tragic of cases. The saddest for everyone involved. We are dealing here with a tragic accident.”

Judge Clark told Johnson: “You weren’t speeding or driving in a reckless manner. But you should have slowed down.”

Johnson was banned for two years. He must complete a 15-day activity requirement and 200 hours of unpaid work.