Revealed: Killer driver got right back behind the wheel of a bus

A bus driver who faces a lengthy prison sentence today for killing two OAPs and injuring four passengers got a job driving for another public transport firm just weeks later, the Evening News can reveal.

By Naina Bhardwaj and Stephen Wilkie
Tuesday, 15th September 2020, 7:30 am

Stephen Jones, 57, got behind the wheel of a First Midland bus and ferried unsuspecting fare-paying passengers without telling his new bosses of his crime.

He failed to declare that he was going to stand in the dock at the High Court in Edinburgh over the deaths of Ian McKay, 78, and his 79-year-old wife Helen, from Bathgate.

Jones, of Whitburn will return to the same court today to learn his fate after he admitted causing the couple’s death by dangerous driving and injuring his passengers on the B792 road, near Torphichen in January last year. Both vehicles ended up in a farmer’s field following the collision. Nothing could be done to save Mr and Mrs McKay.

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The Evening News previously revealed that Jones had obtained a driving job with the Royal Mail through an agency without declaring the charges he was facing.

Now, it has emerged that less than two months after the fatal incident, he landed a job as a bus driver by leaving his application form for the position partially blank and not mentioning any prior incidents when given the opportunity to disclose them at his interview.

David Phillips, Operations Director for First Midland said: “I can confirm that Stephen Jones was employed by First Midland for a short period from March 2019 until 
October 2019.

“First Midland were not aware of his involvement in any prior incidents before joining us as his references and licence checks were all clear.” First Bus added that Jones’ licence had not been suspended because only the traffic commissioner has the power to do that and he had passed an independent medical check.

However, E&M Horsburgh’s Depot Operations Manager, James McDowall, who was Jones’ boss at the time of the B792 tragedy, said First Midland had delayed contacting him for references until shortly before he left their employment.

Mr McDowall said: “They did not contact us until October 1, 2019 after which point they did try and chase me for one two or three times.”

Jones, who already had previous convictions for speeding and careless driving, said the bus which killed Mr and Mrs McKay was running to schedule but he had been temporarily blinded by the sun seconds before the horrific collision.

The elderly couple were out driving their new Vauxhall Corsa for the first time when they were fatally injured.

Bus passengers suffered a number of injuries and told police they were gripping on to the seats in fear as Jones appeared to be driving too fast for the rural road.

Following his appearance and guilty plea last month, Jones was remanded in custody by the judge, Lord Doherty.

He is due to appear via video link from Saughton Prison to receive his sentence following background reports ordered by the judge.