School worker flipped minibus with pupils on board

15:58 07 March 2014

North Devon Magistrates Court, Barnstaple

North Devon Magistrates Court, Barnstaple

Archant

Former colleague suffered whiplash and was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder after the collision.

A FORMER worker at Broomhayes School flipped a mini bus causing a co-worker to suffer a cracked rib and anxiety attacks, a court heard.

Matthew Gent, 32, of Lime Grove, Bideford, was driving two students at the school for people with autism and three members of staff to Northam Burrows on a trip.

Gent pleaded guilty to driving without due care and attention after he ended up flipping the van over.

Witness statements read to the court from staff members said Gent had initially driven fast over the speed bumps at the burrows which ‘made the students laugh’.

One of the co-workers, who attended the hearing on Friday, said after leaving the Burrows Gent was driving in an ‘inappropriate way’.

She said the mini bus was driving too fast when it hit a dip in Gammaton Road which caused Gent to lose control and mount the left bank of the road.

The bus flipped over, with one member of staff suffering whiplash and a possible cracked rib, and another suffering minor cuts and bruises.

One of Gent’s colleagues said she had suffered anxiety and panic attacks since the event which had caused her to be diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder.

Gent, who was unrepresented in court, said the vehicle had been unsuitable as it did not have a screen to protect the driver if the pupils got stressed or angry.

He told magistrates he ‘did not have a choice’ in driving it and that his employer, who has since made him redundant, would have ‘expected him to’.

Magistrates fined Gent £275 and he was disqualified from driving for six months. He was also ordered to pay £85 in costs and a £28 victim surcharge.

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