A great-grandmother was forced to have both legs amputated after being dragged under a bus when the driver deliberately refused to let her on, a court has heard.
Joan Scott, then 82, was injured trying to board a bus near her home in Wallsend, Tyne and Wear, in September 2021.
When the Go North East bus, driven by Scott Cliff, arrived, she waited to drop someone off and then got on, listening to Newcastle Crown Court. Cliff, who claimed that he recognized Ms. Scott as someone who had not previously had her free bus pass with her, closed the doors and left.
But Ms Scott had put her cane, which was tied to her wrist, in the doors and was dragged under the bus, run over and left pinned under the rear wheels for 45 minutes. She suffered horrific leg injuries that resulted in amputation.
Cliff, 49, of Lindisfarne Road, Hebburn, has been jailed for two years and three months after he pleaded guilty to causing serious injury by dangerous driving.
Joan Scott (pictured) was forced to have both legs amputated after being dragged under a bus when the driver pointedly refused to let her on, Newcastle Crown Court heard.
When the Go North East bus, driven by Scott Cliff (pictured), arrived, she waited to drop someone off and then got on. Cliff, who claimed that he recognized Ms. Scott as someone who had not previously had her free bus pass with her, then closed the doors and left.
Ms Scott waited for a bus on Battle Hill Drive, Wallsend, at around 6:00pm on 19 September 2021 to take her to Newcastle upon Tyne city centre.
A bus driven by Cliff pulled up past the stop to let a passenger alight and Mrs. Scott tried to get on.
Jane Foley, the prosecutor, said she indicated her desire to board the bus by raising her left arm, but Cliff apparently “deliberately chose to ignore her because, he suggested to a police officer at the scene, the same old woman had gotten on his bus.” . a week before and she didn’t have a pass and she didn’t pay.
The prosecutor told the court: “He said he thought ‘I won’t let her in, she’s done this several times.’
Cliff then closed the bus doors, but as they were closing, Ms placed her cane in the doors, however, “it wasn’t big enough to trigger a security feature on the bus,” Ms Foley said.
He explained that “only after applying force to the doors, when the movement of the bus pulled it forward, were the doors able to open.”
CCTV footage revealed that once the bus moved, Ms Scott fell to the ground and was struck by the bus and caught by its rear wheels.
Ms Foley added: ‘This caused life-changing injuries. Scott Cliff didn’t look at the doors until they were fully closed. If he had, he would have seen Mrs. Scott, who was standing very close to the bus lifting her cane, which then got caught between the doors.
“The collision report states that the collision occurred as a direct result of Defendant’s premeditated intent to deny entry to Ms. Scott and his willingness to conduct sufficient checks to ensure the safety of passengers and other road users before driving off. “.
The court heard that the bus passengers saw Ms. Scott at the bus stop wanting to get on. They saw her raise her hands towards the door and formed the sight of her that the driver must have seen her. Then she was seen to lose her balance and fall to the road.
Cliff (pictured) pleaded guilty because he didn’t know the cane was in the doors. He said that he only realized a problem when he heard a knock and a voice outside.
Ms Foley said: “The Crown says he didn’t let her on and made no comment because he was so determined to walk away to prevent her from getting on the bus.”
The court heard that the devastating injuries had a traumatic effect on Ms. Scott, who had early stages of Alzheimer’s disease at the time but remained independent.
Cliff pleaded guilty on the basis that he did not know the cane was in the doors. He noted that the stick was thin, therefore the door security system did not sound to indicate that something was in the way and instead indicated that the doors were properly closed.
He said he only became aware of a problem when he heard a knock and a voice outside. Cliff followed his training in not making an emergency stop unless it’s an obvious emergency, which he didn’t realize at the time, for the safety of other passengers, but he braked firmly.
Gavin Doig, mitigating, said that there are references that speak well of Cliff, adding: “I honestly believed, wrongly and tragically wrongly, that the doors were securely locked.” I ask your Honor to avoid the conclusion that he deliberately averted his gaze. He saw her, but looked ahead when the doors were closed.
Judge Roger Thomas said: “I have the impression that he closed the doors to prevent her from going in and looked ahead because he didn’t want to make eye contact.”
Ms. Foley responded: “That’s the distraction: avoiding eye contact because he was so determined to walk away to prevent her from getting on the bus.” He wasn’t just closing the doors and driving casually like he should be.
Passing sentence, the judge told Cliff: ‘What you did, remarkably really, was shut the doors on him, knowing that he wanted to move on and was about to. Then he looked ahead, looked at his mirror, and left.
“As you walked away, you had to look straight ahead, as that was the direction of travel, but it’s hard to watch that movie and understand it in that simple way… It sounds like you didn’t want to look at that old lady on purpose.” , that you knew she wanted to get on the bus.
The judge commented that bus passes for people Ms. Scott’s age are free and asked why Cliff decided that she should not be allowed on the bus.
Mr Doig replied: ‘There is no excuse for it. The explanation is that he thought that he was the same person who did not have his bus pass. It is part of the rules and regulations and you would need to check the bus pass.
The court heard that the devastating injuries had a traumatic effect on Ms. Scott, (pictured), who had early stages of Alzheimer’s disease at the time but remained independent.
Judge Thomas said: “It’s really amazing that he decided that she wouldn’t get on the bus.”
Mr Doig, who said Cliff is sorry, added: “It was wrong and it was dangerous. He could never have had any idea that such a foolish decision of his would have such dire consequences.
“I’m not criticizing her, but he couldn’t anticipate her putting her cane in the doors and if the doors had been more sensitive, she never would have walked away.”
Ms. Scott’s family said that although she was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, she was independent and capable before the accident. But they said the consequences of it have been devastating, for her and for them.
The former gas board worker had to have her left leg amputated above the knee and her right leg below the knee.
Her son, Brian, said: “I feel like the bus driver, that day, took my mother, took the head of my family in such a shocking way.” She is trapped in a broken body caused by the actions of a single person.
‘Mr Cliff took a position to help and protect the vulnerable by providing a safe place on the bus. But he didn’t do that for my mother and it kills me.
“This would have been so preventable if Mr. Cliff had shown more compassion and consideration towards my mother. It has destroyed our family, and I hope this horrendous incident will make other drivers of all vehicles sit up and take notice.”
Ms Scott’s granddaughter, Sarah, who stopped working to become her carer before the family reluctantly had to commit her to a nursing home, added: “The bus driver didn’t even give her a chance to present the bus pass she had with her.” , all because he thought he recognized her as if he hadn’t previously paid a fare or didn’t have a bus pass that he had with her.
Cliff, 49, of Lindisfarne Road, Hebburn, has been jailed for two years and three months after he pleaded guilty to causing serious injury by dangerous driving. Pictured: Newcastle Crown Court
‘He decided to deny her entry to the bus and opted to close the doors in her face. How could someone do that? He is over 80 years old, he meant no harm.
Sarah added in a victim impact statement: “She has days where she sits and cries rubbing what’s left of her legs.” She is not the grandmother I remember, she is now a different woman.
Joan’s grandson Jack said: ‘My grandmother is no longer herself in any way, shape or form. She was a very active lady throughout the day, and he used to take her out for lunch often. We would sit for hours enjoying each other’s company.
But it is no longer possible to do that. It would distress her greatly to be out of care for even a few hours. It absolutely breaks my heart.
Jack said he avoids the crime scene because it gives him “a horrible feeling in the pit of his stomach” adding: “The grandmother I knew died on September 19, 2021.”