A dementia-stricken great-grandmother who was refused a bus ride lost both of her legs after she was pulled under the vehicle, a court has heard.
Joan Scott, then 83, was not allowed to board a bus near her home in Wallsend, Tyne and Wear, in September 2021 after the driver claimed to have recognised her as someone who previously could not produce their bus pass.
Newcastle Crown Court heard that Scott Cliff, 49, the driver of the Go North East bus, closed the doors on Mrs Scott as she attempted to board after waiting for someone to get off.
But her walking stick – which was fastened to her wrist – was caught in the doors when Cliff drove off.
Horrific CCTV footage shown to the court showed the moment she was dragged under the vehicle, which ran over her legs, and pinned her underneath for 45 minutes, causing grievous injuries.
Doctors were forced to amputate the former gas board worker’s legs, with her left removed above the knee and the right below the knee.
Cliff appeared in court charged with causing serious injury by dangerous driving following the incident.
He pleaded guilty to the charges and has been jailed for two years and three months, with prosecutors saying the driver failed to watch the bus doors until they fully closed.
Prosecutor Jane Foley told the court that Cliff appeared to have ignored the great-grandmother because he suggested to a police officer that “the same elderly lady had got on his bus a week before and didn’t have a pass and didn’t pay”.
Her walking stick was not large enough to activate the bus’s safety functions, Ms Foley added, and she was pulled forward until the doors could open.
She told the court the accident caused “life-changing injuries” after Cliff “failed to observe the doors until they were fully closed”.
The prosecutor added: “The collision report says the collision occurred as a direct result of the defendant’s premeditated intention to refuse entry to Mrs Scott and his complacency in carrying out sufficient checks to ensure the safety of passengers and other road users before pulling away.”
The court heard that passengers on the bus saw the incident unfold from the moment she raised her hand, showing her intentions to board.
Mitigating for Cliff, Gavin Doig raised references speaking well of his character while claiming he “honestly believed the doors were closed safely”.
But, during sentencing, Judge Roger Thomas said he closed the doors against her “knowing she wanted to get on and was almost about to get on”.
The judge added: “As you drove off you had to look forward as that was the direction of travel but it’s difficult to see that film and understand it in that simple way.
“It very much gives the impression you were purposely not wanting to look at that old lady, who you knew was wanting to get on the bus.”