Bus driver in Finlay tragedy has sentence cut by appeal court (From The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald)
Get involved! Send photos, video, news & views. Text WILTS GAZETTE to 80360 or email us
Bus driver in Finlay tragedy has sentence cut by appeal court
School bus driver Adrian Shearing, jailed for causing the death of six-year-old Finlay Connor as he walked into school with his mother, has had his sentence slashed on appeal by one of the country's top criminal judges.
Little Finlay died when he was hit by the bus outside Woodborough School, near Pewsey, on 14 March last year and his mother, Nicola Connor, suffered devastating injuries from which she has yet to recover.
Shearing, 53, of Millhand Villas, Trowbridge, had mistakenly pressed the accelerator instead of the brake pedal while moving the bus, tragically crushing Finlay to death as he and his mother crossed the road through stationary traffic in front of him.
Shearing pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and was jailed for two years and four months at Winchester Crown Court in October last year.
Today Lord Justice Hughes, Mr Justice Field and Mr Justice Beatson, sitting at London's Criminal Appeal Court, cut that sentence to 18 months.
The court heard Shearing had mistakenly hit the accelerator instead of the brake as Finlay's mother was dropping him off near the school gates.
Just prior to the mistake, his coach had been hit by a large agricultural vehicle.
Mrs Connor suffered fractures to her skull, legs and pelvis and Lord Justice Hughes said she is, to this day, "affected by a wholly understandable but quite undeserved sense of guilt".
"There was nothing whatsoever she could have done," the judge added.
Going on to say that Shearing was also racked with remorse, he continued: "This driving was capable of being described as dangerous driving, but it straddles the border between dangerous driving and the offence of careless driving.
"The defendant is seen to have been making particular steps to take care, such as choosing to park where it was the safest.
"We can understand why anybody might wonder whether he was irritated and acting in haste because of the damage done to his coach by the tractor, but the CCTV evidence suggests the opposite.
"This case involves the tragic death of a child and serious injuries to his mother as well.
"However Shearing's culpability is below the norm of the lowest level of causing death by dangerous driving. The right sentence for this offence would have been one of 18 months," the judge concluded, allowing the appeal.