Bus driver spared jail after killing cyclist

John Yates

John Yates

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A bus driver has been spared jail after hitting a cyclist who was dragged to his death under his single-decker when he failed to stop for 24 metres.

John Yates, 57, pulled out from a junction in Washington, Tyne and Wear, as Leslie Turnbull, 46, cycled passed in his way to work at 7.40am on January 15 this year.

Les Turnbull

Les Turnbull

Yates failed to give way to Mr Turnbull, who had right of way, despite him having flashing lights on his cycle and crashed into him dragging him under the bus.

Newcastle Crown Court heard how Yates failed to stop the Go North East bus for 23.6 metres by which time he was across the other side of the road.

Paul Rowland, prosecuting, told the court Mr Turnbull was wearing dark clothing and had a dark rucksack on his back but had a flashing white light on the front of his bike and a similar red light to the rear.

Mr Rowland said: “As Mr Yates approached the five way junction his vehicle slowed to just 4mph, by which the front of the bus was 1.4 metres from the junction.

“At that point he would have had a full view of the road. That speed was maintained for a second before he started to slowly accelerate across the give way signs.

“It’s apparent his speed peaked at 6.84mph in crossing the junction. The bus collided with Mr Turnbull who of course had right of way and at that time he was passing in front of the bus.

“Mr Turnbull was unseated and was overrun by the bus.

“The bus came to rest, the front of the bus, just 23 metres in front of the five way lines. 23.6 metres to be exact.

“The emergency services were called to the scene but sadly it was confirmed by medical staff that Mr Turnbull had died.

“There were no vehicle defects which could have contributed to the accident.

“He said he looked right and left and the. Right again and still he didn’t see Mr Turnbull.”

The court heard how one witness was able to sound his horn after noticing Mr Yates was failing to stop following the collision on the Barmston Way junction on an underpass under the A1231.

Another witness, who was a front seat passenger on the bus, saw Mr Turnbull and his flashing lights which he described as “catching his eye and standing out”.

The court heard how he heard a “bang” as the bus and the cyclist collided.

Yates, who has worked as a professional bus driver for 35 years, admitted causing death by careless driving.

Stuart Graham, defending, described Yates, who served in the army before becoming a bus driver, as a “broken man”.

Yates sobbed in the dock as Mr Graham told the court: “Your honour has before you a tragedy and there is a loss of life here.

“I can only describe it as a broken man before you today. He won’t drive again, he will not want to go in a vehicle.

“He lives on his own and has since put on a significant amount of weight. When his friends say he must go out he says he doesn’t deserve to go out.

“That’s how much he feels bad about what he’s done.

“Even the officer, said its like he froze or panicked. The moment of the impact effects you so much you freeze or panic.

“He moved forward, he was looking left and right, he didn’t see him.

“He can’t to this day explain why he didn’t see him. There was absolutely no reason not to look. He was not in any rush, there was nothing to distract his attention.

“Just because others saw him doesn’t mean that he saw him.”

Judge John Milford QC told Yates of Davison Terrace, Sacriston, County Durham: “Its clear that you did not see the late Mr Turnbull until it was too late.

“You collided with him causing him fatal injuries.

“When he did not arrive at his place of work his daughter Jodie who was to meet him there realised something was a miss and went looking for him with her mother Anne, Mr Turnbull’s partner.

“To their horror, as they traced his route they came across the scene of the accident.

“Mr Turnbull was much loved by them but also by his mother, his son and his brother Jason as well as other members of his family all of whom are devastated by his untimely and unnecessary death.

“Your carelessness caused the death of another and untold pain of his family.

This weighs heavily upon you and will continue to do so for many years to come.

“Any sentence that a judge can pass in a case such as this will not bring Mr Turnbull back to those who loved him.

“It’s very unlikely that it will give them any feeling other than feelings of dissatisfaction.

“This was a death caused by careless driving arising from momentary inattention.”

Judge Milford sentenced Yates to a 12 month community order with supervision and disqualified him from driving for two years.