Bus company fined more than £2 million after fatal crash
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Bus company fined more than £2 million after fatal crash

Two people died when the bus Kailash Chander was driving crashed into a Sainsbury’s in Coventry in 2015. Credit: WMAS/PA

A bus company has been handed a £2.335m fine after one of its drivers crashed into a supermarket, killing a passenger and a pedestrian.

Kailash Chander, who was 77 at the time, was permitted to work by Midland Red (South), part of Stagecoach, despite there being concerns about his driving.

The company pleaded guilty last year to offences contrary to the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Kailash Chander, who was 77 at the time, had been warned about his ‘erratic’ driving before the fatal crash. Credit: PA

A court heard that Chander, from Leamington Spa, mistook the accelerator for the brake, before the fatal crash in Coventry in October 2015. He was ruled mentally unfit to stand trial due to dementia.

But a jury at a finding-of-fact trial ruled that Chander, now 80, was driving dangerously when he killed primary school pupil Rowan Fitzgerald, aged seven, and 76-year-old pedestrian Dora Hancox.

They were told Chander had been warned about his “erratic” driving by his employer after four crashes in the three years prior to the crash.

At the trial, an expert said Chander may have been suffering from undiagnosed dementia – without showing symptoms to colleagues – at the time of the crash.

He’s been given a supervision order.

Judge Paul Farrer QC, sentencing the company, said it had failed to follow policy in the run-up to the smash. He said:

“The failings of the company were a significant cause of the events of October 3 2015.

Over the course of a six-month period, Mr Chander was driving a bus in circumstances where he was permitted to drive while fatigued, inevitably involving a high risk of death or serious injury to the public of Mr Chander himself.”


In a statement, Phil Medlicott, Managing Director of Midland Red (South), said:

We are deeply sorry for the heartache of everyone affected, particularly the families of Rowan Fitzgerald and Dora Hancox. Safety is and always will be our first concern, and we take our responsibilities extremely seriously. We know and fully accept that there were a number of failings at our company and we bear the weight of our responsibility for this terrible tragedy. That’s why we made early guilty pleas.

Following the accident, our priority has been to put these matters right. We carried out a comprehensive review of all of our policies and have made several key changes. This means we have in place a significantly more robust safety regime than is required by law.

Our parent company, Stagecoach, is working with our industry partners to establish a consistent approach by government on these issues. We cannot turn back the clock in this case, but we have sought to do everything possible to learn lessons and ensure that this kind of accident does not happen again.”


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