Bus driver escapes jail sentence for killing cyclist

John Yates failed to stop for 24 metres after his vehicle struck Leslie Turnbull

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A bus driver who failed to stop for 24 metres after hitting and dragging a cyclist under his vehicle has escaped jail despite causing his death.

John Yates, 57, from Sacriston, County Durham, sobbed in the dock as the details of how he struck Leslie Turnbull, 46, were explained to the court. He had previously admitted causing death due to careless driving.

Paul Rowland, for the prosecution, said Mr Turnbull had been cycling to work in dry conditions in January and had lights on the front and rear of the bike. As he made his way along Barmston Way, in Washington, Tyne and Wear, Yates approached a junction in his single-decker bus.

Mr Rowland said telemetry from the vehicle showed he had slowed to about 4mph a few metres before the junction and would have had “a full view of the road”. He said: “That speed was maintained before he began to slowly accelerate across the give-way signs.

“His speed increased to 6.8mph and in crossing the junction the bus collided with Mr Turnbull, who, of course, had right of way. At that time he was passing in front of the bus and Mr Turnbull was unseated and overrun by the bus, which came to rest some 23.6 metres down the road.”

Newcastle Crown Court heard how a driver who was coming along the road behind Mr Turnbull said that, as the cyclist drew level with the bus it pulled out and, after it did not stop immediately, he began to sound his horn.

Judge John Milford QC described how when Mr Turnbull failed to meet his daughter, she and her mother went looking for him and came across the scene of the accident. He said it had had a devastating impact on the family, and would also weigh heavily on Yates for many years to come.

Stuart Graham, defending, described Yates as a broken man and said he had been receiving counselling since the incident. He said he had been driving buses for 35 years and had an impeccable record, but had now said he would never drive again. He said the reason for him not coming to an immediate stop was because he froze in a panic after the impact.

Yates was given a 12-month community order and disqualified from driving for two years.

Press Association