A bus driver who denied dangerous driving has been jailed after driving through floodwater, stranding terrified pupils who broke windows in a bid to escape.
Graham Jones, 53, who is a former soldier said he had made a genuine mistake and had not seen road closed signs. However a jury has now found him guilty of dangerous driving after deciding that he had put the pupils at risk.
Judge Paul Batty QC told him that the consequences of driving through such high flood water could have been dire. Jones was taking the schoolchildren, all aged between 11 and 18 to Easingwold School in North Yorkshire in January. They were returning for their first day back at school after being off during the Christmas holidays.
The driver had already driven through one stretch of flooded water before tackling another. When he realised that water was seeping through the door of the bus, he tried to reverse out, but the bus ended up drifting into a ditch. When it came to a halt, water was so deep it was at the top of the seats.
He told the jury at York Crown Court that he had started to drive through the water because he thought it was shallow. Jones said that he and the pupils had both been left very traumatised by the incident. Firefighters were called and had to wade into the flood water so they could carry everyone who had been on the bus to safety.
While Jones tried to reassure the pupils that they should stay on the bus, they were so terrified that they broke windows in a bid to get out. The court was told that he had shown arrogance while giving his evidence and the judge said that he could not understand why he had not pleaded guilty. Jones has been jailed for year and will be banned from driving for four years.