Driver who sent bus crashing into Sunderland house caught by DNA on airbag

Pic of the scene of a bus crash in Merle Terrace, Pallion, by reader Cath Haley.
Pic of the scene of a bus crash in Merle Terrace, Pallion, by reader Cath Haley.
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The driver of a car which sent a bus careering into a city home was snared by science, a court heard.

Driver Alexander McHugh ran off after causing the accident, but was identified by DNA from the scene.

Scene of a bus crash in Merle Terrace, Pallion. Pic by reader Cath Haley.

Scene of a bus crash in Merle Terrace, Pallion. Pic by reader Cath Haley.

George Greig’s home in Merle Terrace, Pallion, was badly damaged in the crash.

Mr Greig’s daughter Stacey and grand-daughter Mollie had been visiting and were sat in the bay window just minutes before the crash.

The bus veered into the house after being hit by a Renault Clio car – and 18-year-old McHugh admitted he was behind the wheel when he appeared at Sunderland Magistrates Court.

McHugh, of Station Road, Penshaw, admitted charges of dangerous driving, driving without a valid licence, using a vehicle without insurance and failing to stop after and failing to report an accident.

George Greig outside his wrecked home in Merle Terrace, Pallion.

George Greig outside his wrecked home in Merle Terrace, Pallion.

Michael Rose, prosecuting, said McHugh’s Renalt Clio had collided with the bus after failing to negotiate a corner ‘at some speed.’

“He got out of the car with two others and ran off,” said Mr Rose. “Eventually, he was identified by DNA on the airbag. He admitted he had been driving and said he would plead guilty at court.”

The court heard McHugh was well known to the youth offending service – including a previous conviction for dangerous driving – but had turned 18 since the crash and was now the responsibilty of the probation service.

District Judge Roger Elsey said he was going to give McHugh credit for the fact he was a youth at the time of the accident and impose a community sentence in line with a probation service recommendation.

“I am proceeding on the basis that you regret what you did and realise how foolish it was,” he said.

McHugh was ordered to undergo a year’s community order, with a 30-day rehabilitation requirement and 80 days’ unpaid work, and banned from driving for two years: “You will not be able to drive any vehicle on any road for two years from today,” said Mr Elsey.

“If you do, you will go to prison.”

‘It could have been so much worse’

Sixty-one-year-old George Greig was sitting at home watching TV when a single-decker bus ploughed into the front of his house in Merle Terrace, Pallion, shortly after 5pm on May 12.

Mr Greig, whose 59-year-old wife Anne was at work in her role as a B&Q supervisor, said: “I was sat watching TV when the bus crashed into the front of the house.

“I had to dive on to the sofa and then managed to get out through the front door. I’m just in shock. It could have been so much worse.

“Only ten minutes earlier Stacey and Mollie had been sat on a sofa by the front window. It doesn’t bear thinking about what could have happened.

“To be honest, I was more worried about the people on the bus than me as I could see some had blood on their faces.

“I’m just glad that nobody was seriously hurt.”

Neighbour Lauren Cartledge, 20, added: “I heard a massive bang and could not believe what I saw when I went outside.

“There were a lot of people walking off the bus and I saw others being helped by paramedics. The driver just looked really shocked.”