Gloucestershire

Driver who crashed seaside trip coach on M5 banned

Coach on its side
Image caption The coach overturned while taking people on a day trip to Weston-super-Mare

A coach driver who crashed while taking a group of children on a trip to the seaside has been banned from driving.

Robert Blakemore's coach, carrying 53 people, came off the M5 in Gloucestershire in August. Five adults and one child were injured.

Witnesses said Mr Blakemore, 60, and from Wolverhampton, was driving with his eyes closed and his chin resting on his chest at the time of the crash.

He pleaded guilty to driving without due care and attention.

In witness statements, three passengers said Mr Blakemore woke when the coach was drifting towards the hard shoulder and a girl screamed, Stroud Magistrates' Court heard.

This shocked Mr Blakemore who failed to regain control of the coach.

Image caption Driver Robert Blakemore was banned and ordered to pay fines totalling £165

No mechanical defect was found with the coach and breath tests indicated he had not been drinking.

Mr Blakemore, who is diabetic, said he "did not black out".

He told the court that he was currently on sick pay and unable to work because of a broken leg suffered in the crash.

He added that losing his licence would mean he would lose his job.

The coach was operated by Stourbridge-based Prospect Coaches. It had been taking a group of youngsters from a children's centre in Sandwell on a trip to the beach in Weston-super-Mare.

As well as the 15 month ban, Mr Blakemore was fined £165 and ordered to take an extended test.

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