Bus driver who caused crash that killed elderly couple in West Lothian jailed

Stephen Jones will spend time behind bars after causing the deaths of Ian and Helen McKay by dangerous driving.

By Dave Finlay
Tuesday, 15th September 2020, 12:09 pm
Updated Tuesday, 15th September 2020, 7:22 pm

A bus driver who killed an elderly couple in a horrific crash was jailed for three years at the High Court in Edinburgh on Tuesday.

Stephen Jones, 57, repeatedly drove onto the opposing carriageway, too fast for the road layout, before failing to negotiate a bend and driving into the path of the oncoming Vauxhall Corsa.

The driver of the car Ian McKay, 78, and his wife Helen, 79, who was the front seat passenger, died after sustaining multiple serious injuries.

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One of the passengers on the service bus Jones was driving, 78-year-old Agnes Marshall, suffered serious injury and others were also injured in the fatal incident in West Lothian.

A judge told Jones at the High Court in Edinburgh: “In view of the gravity of the offence the interests of justice require the imposition of a custodial sentence.”

Lord Doherty said he took into account that Jones being dazzled by the sun was a contributory factor to the tragedy that unfolded.

But the judge said that it must have been plain there was a risk of being dazzled but he did not moderate his speed.

The scene of the crash. Stephen Jones has been jailed for three years

Lord Doherty said: “On a number of occasions in the lead up to the collision on the road between Torphichen and West Calder you failed to keep to your own carriageway and drove onto the opposite carriageway.

“In my view, your conduct in the lead up to the collision gave rise to significant danger and it involved significant culpability on your part. That conduct caused two deaths and the serious injury of a third person,” he said.

Lord Doherty told Jones that he would have jailed him for four and a half years, but for his guilty plea. He also banned him from driving for four years and eight months and told him he would have to pass an extended test before driving again.

The judge was previously shown footage from the E.M. Horsburgh bus Jones was driving in the lead up to the crash, including efforts by Mr McKay to avoid the collision as he steered towards the edge of the roadway.

Jones, of Glenmore, Whitburn, in West Lothian, earlier admitted causing the couple's death and injury to others by driving dangerously on the B792 on January 8 last year.

Jones, who has previous convictions for speeding and careless driving, had three penalty points on his license at the time of the offence.

Mr and Mrs McKay, of Bathgate, in West Lothian, had bought the Corsa the day before the collision and gone for a drive in their new purchase on the fateful day.

Both the bus and the car ended up in a farmer's field following the crash.

Prosecutor Steven Borthwick said that prior to the collision one of the passengers on the bus was unhappy about the way it was being driven and that it was “swinging round the corners”.

Another passenger Greg Moodie (56) said that as the bus pulled away from temporary traffic lights in the village of Torphichen it was gathering speed and momentum and was “going way too fast”.

Mr Borthwick told the court: “He put his phone away and grabbed onto the seats in front of him with both hands.

“As the road reached the bend he noted that the bus driver made no effort to negotiate the left turn but continued straight on. The bus then continued to travel along the opposing carriageway."

“At this point Mr Moodie saw the car being driven by the now deceased Ian McKay and noted that the bus was travelling towards it head on,” said the advocate depute.

“He states that the bus driver made no attempts to brake and indeed appeared to accelerate before the bus collided with the deceased's car,” added Mr Borthwick.

Jones later told police that he “got blinded temporarily by the sun upon going round the corner”.

He said: "By the time I regained my vision I realised there was a car directly in front of me and gave me no chance to apply an emergency brake." He added: “All I can say is sorry.”

Defence solicitor advocate Ewen Roy said: “He accepts full responsibility for the accident and the consequent loss of life and custody is plainly the only sentence the court can impose."

He added: “He has been assessed as genuinely remorseful. Then concerns expressed by him are for others and not for himself."

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