Wiltshire

Bus driver jailed for causing death of Finlay Connor, 6

Adrian Shearing
Image caption Adrian Shearing admitted causing death by dangerous driving

A school bus driver has been jailed for causing the death of a six-year-old boy by dangerous driving.

Finlay Connor died when he was hit by a bus outside Woodborough School near Pewsey, Wiltshire, on 14 March.

Adrian Shearing, 52, from Trowbridge, had earlier pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving.

He was sentenced to two years and four months in prison at Winchester Crown Court and disqualified from driving for three years.

The court heard that Shearing had mistakenly hit the accelerator instead of the brake as Finlay's mother Nicola Connor was dropping him off near the school gates.

'Careered forward'

Colin Meeke, prosecuting, said a Fiat Punto was in front of the bus when it sped off.

"In a ghastly coincidence Mrs Nicola Connor was leading her son by the hand behind the Fiat just as the coach careered forward into it," he said.

"Both were struck down. Finlay Connor received fatal injuries and did not regain consciousness.

Image caption Finlay Connor was hit by a bus outside Woodborough School

"Mrs Connor suffered massive injuries. There was nothing whatsoever she could have done. She suffers survivor's guilt but there was nothing anyone could have done."

The court heard a shaken Shearing had said after Finlay's death that the brakes had failed on the coach.

The court heard the coach had no defects and that Shearing had suffered "sudden acceleration syndrome", when the driver of an automatic vehicle becomes confused when they mistakenly press the accelerator instead of the brake and cannot understand why the vehicle will not stop.

Shearing's barrister Michael Hall said his client was an ordinary hardworking family man with no previous convictions.

Shearing accepted that the coach was out of control, and gave his heartfelt sympathy to Finlay's family, Mr Hall said.

"It was his error that caused the accident," he said. "He panicked and slammed his foot down on the accelerator."

Sentencing Shearing, Judge Guy Boney QC said: "The consequences of your driving come very high.

"A life has been lost at the very outset of its course and you ultimately bear the responsibility."

'Lives destroyed'

Following the hearing, Finlay's family said in a statement: "Finlay Joseph Connor was simply the most perfect son to us as parents and a wonderful big brother to Louis.

"From the moment he was born he has brought us all love and joy, he really was a shining star who lit up our lives each and every day.

"On March 14 Finlay walked hand in hand to school with his mummy, as we did each and every day, so full, as always, of excitement for the school day ahead.

"This is my last memory of Finlay, as within just moments of reaching the school gate, the school coach accelerated towards us, running us down.

"In that moment our little boy's wonderful life was ended and his family's lives destroyed.

"Now nearly seven months on, we struggle to live our lives without him. He was so adored and is so missed."

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