Hereford & Worcester

Alvechurch School coach crash: Driver gets suspended sentence

Coach lies on its side. Image copyright Other
Image caption The bus crashed down a motorway embankment at Chalons-en-Champagne near Rheims in February 2012

The driver of a school coach that crashed in France, killing a teacher, has received a suspended jail sentence.

Peter Rippington, 59, who taught at Alvechurch School in Worcestershire, died in the accident in February 2012.

Derek Thompson, 50, of Atherstone, Warwickshire, was found guilty of manslaughter and given a six-month suspended term by a court in Chalons-en-Champagne, north-east France.

More than 25 people were hurt when the bus overturned on the A26 near Rheims.

Steve Ratheram, 53, from Yardley Wood, suffered spinal fractures, a fractured sternum and broken ribs in the crash.

The former ski instructor said he felt for the wife and daughter of Mr Rippington.

"My initial reaction is that while I welcome the conviction, the sentence seems very light bearing in mind the seriousness of what happened," he said.

Image copyright Google
Image caption Thompson was sentenced at the Palais de Justice in Chalons-en-Champagne to a six-month jail term, suspended for five years

Irwin Mitchell Solicitors is representing 20 children, two teachers and two ski instructors who were injured in the crash.

Cheryl Palmer Hughes, their solicitor who was in court for the verdict said it had been "a long process" to find out what happened.

"What our clients wanted was an explanation of what happened and then also what people need to learn from what happened."

A court spokeswoman said a full written judgement setting out the court's detailed reasoning will follow "in the future".

Image caption Peter Rippington, pictured with his wife Sharon, died in the crash. Mrs Rippington was injured

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