A great-grandmother was forced to have both legs amputated when she was unable to enter a double-decker bus and became trapped underneath it.
On September 19, 2021, 83-year-old Joan Scott was crushed beneath the vehicle's axles in Wallsend, North Tyneside. Before the bus departed, her walking staff, which was attached to her wrist, became lodged in the closed doors.
Scott Cliff, 49, pled guilty to causing serious injury by driving recklessly and was sentenced to 27 months in prison.
Mrs. Scott was unable to free herself, and as Cliff drove away, she was carried under the Go North East vehicle and trapped for nearly an hour.
Her injuries were so severe that one of her legs had to be amputated at the scene and the other hours later in the hospital.
Judge Roger Thomas sentenced Cliff on Wednesday at the Newcastle Crown Court: "As the doors opened up, you saw her nearing the door to board. Unbelievably, you then closed the doors in her face, although you knew she wanted to board and was on the verge of doing so."
The judge stated that Cliff's forward gaze as he drew away gave the impression that he was avoiding looking at an elderly woman who he knew was attempting to board the bus.
The court heard that the driver, of Lindisfarne Road, Hebburn, had stopped to let a passenger off but refused to let Mrs. Scott enter because he mistakenly believed she had boarded his bus without her pass and refused to pay the week prior.
Prosecutor Jane Foley stated that the widow went from being "independent and capable" to requiring constant care.
As the doors were closing, Mrs. Scott placed her walking stick in the center of the doors, she explained. It appeared that the thin stick was insufficient to trigger a safety feature on the bus that would have otherwise prevented the doors from closing. Mrs. Scott was propelled forward by the bus's motion.
Mrs. Scott collapsed to the ground and was struck by the bus and entrapped by the rear wheels once the bus began to move. Cliff's attorneys argued there was no alarm to indicate Mrs. Scott's stick was caught, he was unaware of what had occurred, and he halted the bus as soon as he realized something was wrong.
Defense attorney Gavin Doig deemed it "incomprehensible" that his client decided Mrs. Scott should not join the bus. He stated that Cliff had been a driver for six years, had excellent references and no criminal record, and had no way of knowing that her cane was caught in the door.
Brian, Mrs. Scott's son stated that his mother was now trapped in a broken body caused by the actions of one person alone. He added, "Mr. Cliff was in a position to assist and protect the vulnerable by providing a secure spot on the bus, but he failed to do so for my mother, and that kills me. He annihilated our family. I trust that this heinous incident will cause other motorists to take notice."
PC Catherine Lloyd, who oversaw the investigation, described the occurrence as extremely tragic. Everyone is responsible for ensuring that our roads are as secure as possible, and we will continue to pursue those who endanger the lives of others while driving.