Bus driver will serve a minimum of two-and-a-half years in prison
Fifty-five year old Jack Aston was driving for Gold Bus Ballarat when the front of the 3.8m bus struck the base of the bridge, which had a three-metre clearance. He had ignored numerous warning signs leading to the bridge including a height sensor which triggered red flashing warning lights.
A jury found Aston guilty of six charges of negligently causing serious injury.
“Three of your passengers saw the bridge. How it is that you did not, is astonishing,” Judge Bill Stuart told Aston during sentencing.
“Why you were so grossly inattentive is unknown to me.”
Gold Bus founder Donald McKenzie had taken responsibility for not warning Aston of driving conditions in that area, telling a plea hearing in the County Court last week that Aston had been “let down by the company”.
“I’d like to apologise on behalf of the company to the six passengers who were injured,” McKenzie said.
“I’d also like to apologise to Jack and his family who have been put through the mill.”
However, the judge said Aston was ultimately responsible and that employers cannot be blamed for the “obvious failings” of employees.