This is the moment a TfL bus driver looked off the road to collect a chocolate bar – and struck and killed a pensioner.
Garfield Balfour, 50, knocked over Arthur Gowrie, 88, in Southwark as he rummaged around in his cab for the treat, Inner London Crown Court heard.
Mr. Gowrie, who had a walking stick and was dragging a trolley, was trying to cross the road by weaving in and out of stationary traffic when he was hit by the No 35 bus.
He suffered a serious head injury following the accident on 2 August 2019 and died two days later.
Prosecutor Wayne Cranston-Morris said: ‘Balfour had stopped the bus and grabbed a chocolate bar. But he then decided to start driving the bus because he couldn’t see ahead’.
Judge Nigel Peters said: ‘So it’s chocolate, foot off the brake, little movement?’
Sir. Cranston-Morris replied: ‘It’s not just the foot off the brake, its foot on the accelerator.
This is the moment a TfL bus driver looks off the road to pick up a chocolate bar – and hits and kills a pensioner
Garfield Balfour, 50, knocked over Arthur Gowrie, 88, in Southwark as he rummaged for treats
Sir. Gowrie, who had a walking stick and was pulling a trolley, was trying to cross the road by weaving in and out of stationary traffic when he was hit by No.35 (not pictured)
‘Before the deceased stepped onto the motorway, he looked to the right, he looked to the left, he didn’t just step onto the motorway.’
CCTV shown in court showed Mr Gowrie approaching the road with his shopping bags and passing in front of the bus before he was hit.
“The defendant had no hands on the wheel and was not looking forward,” Cranston-Morris said.
Elizabeth Lambert, defending, said: ‘After he picks up the chocolate bar the victim is in the blind spot so he couldn’t have seen him.
‘It is clear from the video that, very tragically, when the pedestrian entered the road, he entered directly in front of the bus.
“This defendant is a very experienced bus driver with no previous offences.
“This incident was a very unfortunate combination of events. Fate made this gentleman cross the road.
“No driver could have expected the deceased to have crossed the road. When he sits back down, the deceased is in his blind spot and crosses the road in a way that many motorists would not have anticipated.’
Garfield Balfour had stopped the bus and grabbed a chocolate bar, the type unknown
‘Statistics have been concluded by TfL there have been nine reported injury collisions at that junction.’
Judge Peters said: ‘All road deaths are sad and are ones that, in hindsight, could have been different.
‘We all know how dangerous it is as a driver or pedestrian on a busy road and statistics show that a large number of people suffer death injury or accident on busy roads such as Walworth Road where this happened where traffic is traveling at low speeds and where pedestrians, cyclists dart in and out of busy streets.
‘This tragedy took place at 4pm in broad daylight. Mr. Gowrie, aged 88, was on his way home, he has a walking stick and a trolley.
‘He was waiting on the kerb like so many people and taking a chance to cross the road when the traffic came to a standstill.
‘This defendant has been driving London buses since 2016 with an impeccable record.
‘No one is suggesting that he left that day doing anything but his job and doing his job properly.
‘He made the conscious decision to help himself to a chocolate bar which was on the floor.
“And he did it by looking down from his normal vision and picked up the chocolate bar from the floor.
The traffic started to move and very slowly he moved from the brake to the accelerator.
‘His hands weren’t on the wheel, he’s concentrating on the chocolate bar as anyone would.
‘You open a chocolate bar with two hands. He looks down very briefly at the chocolate bar when this happened, Mr. Gowrie crosses the road.
‘Sir. Gowrie wasn’t just knocked over on the side of the bus, he had reached the front of the bus.
‘No one is saying he did anything deliberately, far from it, but unfortunately Mr Gowrie fell over and it’s just that because of his age he hurt his head and didn’t survive.’
Balfour, of Chrysell Road, Stockwell, admitted causing death by careless or reckless driving, was sentenced to 140 hours’ unpaid work and his license suspended for 12 months.