Double decker bus driver jailed - South Mimms

26/01/2016

A man appeared at St Albans Crown Court today, Tuesday, 26 January 2016, and was jailed for three years after crashing a double decker bus in South Mimms in October 2014.

Modecai Juma, aged 42, of Maxwell Road, St Albans, was sentenced after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing to three counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.  In addition to the custodial sentence, Juma was disqualified from driving for five years and must take an extended driving test before driving again.

Juma had been driving an Uno double decker bus along St Albans Road at around 8.20am on Monday, 20 October 2014, when he crossed the carriageway and collided with a Vauxhall Corsa coming in the opposite direction, causing the bus to overturn.

There were 99 passengers on the bus, out of which seven suffered serious injuries and 82 suffered slight injuries. The woman driving the car suffered serious life-changing injuries and her young son, who was a passenger, suffered slight injuries.

The passengers described Juma's driving as dangerous throughout the 10 mile journey, which started at Queensbury Tube Station.

Adrian Foster, Chief Crown Prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said: "This case involved a terrible incident, where a double-decker bus, carrying approximately 100 passengers, collided with a car and overturned causing serious injury to a number of the bus passengers and the driver of the car and less severe injuries to most of the other bus passengers and a passenger in the car.

"At about 8.20am on Monday, 20 October 2014, Modecai Juma was driving a double-decker bus on the A1081 St Albans Road, Barnet when he approached a sweeping left hand bend.  He drove straight through the corner, rather than around it, drifted onto the opposite carriageway and collided head on with a Vauxhall Corsa coming in the opposite direction.  The Corsa spun around and was thrown backwards while the bus struck the bank and upturned onto its side.

"Due to arriving late for work, Juma was assigned a different bus route.  Passengers described him as in a rush, issuing their tickets while driving, arguing with a female passenger, and driving aggressively, erratically, too fast and braking hard.  More importantly, they noted him nodding off at the wheel.  The bus was overcrowded and their overall experience was of an anxious and uncomfortable journey, which resulted in a dreadful crash.  A telematics recording device fitted in the bus measured Jumas driving behaviour prior to the collision and recorded 16 safety events during the journey.  Juma didnt have much sleep the night before the incident, was tired and the probable cause of the collision was loss of concentration due to falling asleep.

"Juma initially claimed the collision was a result of a faulty steering wheel, but on 05 January 2016, at St Albans Crown Court, due to the strength of evidence against him, and recognising that justice had caught up with him, he pleaded guilty to three counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

"The fact that Juma was a driving in a professional capacity, in rush hour and the passengers had entrusted him with their lives greatly increases the seriousness of this incident.  The consequences could have been even more serious than they actually were and highlight the dangers of driving while tired.  Too little sleep radically affects your ability to drive safely, increasing reaction times, decreasing attention, and reducing your ability to control the vehicle.

"We have worked closely with Hertfordshire Constabulary since this investigation began and as a result of the hard work and diligence of the prosecution team, a just outcome has been achieved. We hope that the conviction and todays sentence bring those involved at least a small sense that justice has been done and that those injured continue with their recovery. Our thoughts are very much with them all at this time."

PC Andrew Wild from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Road Policing Unit investigated the case and said: "This was a serious collision in which a large number of people were injured. The lady driving the Corsa, who was not at fault in any way, is still suffering the effects of her injuries.

"This is the first time someone has been prosecuted for more than one charge of causing serious injury by dangerous driving from the same collision in Hertfordshire and I hope this sends a clear message to those driving our roads dangerously, we will use every power available to us to ensure you face justice."