Man whose driving forced coach off the road near March- with 70 on board- gets a suspended sentence and driving ban
- Credit: Archant
A man whose driving caused a coach to overturn near March into a ditch – injuring 22 of the 70 passengers on board- has been given a suspended prison sentence.
Shahid Malik, 36, of Elmfield Road, Peterborough, was driving on the A141 towards March at about 6.15am on October 30 last year when his dangerous driving caused a coach to leave the road and end up in a ditch.
Twenty-two people suffered injuries, all minor apart from one woman in her 50s who suffered serious, but not life threatening, injuries. The woman and four others were taken to Peterborough City Hospital.
Malik pleaded guilty to dangerous driving at Peterborough Crown Court on Friday.
He was sentenced to three months in prison, suspended for 18 months, 200 hours of unpaid work and has been disqualified from driving for 12 months.
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Malik was also ordered to re-sit a driving test and pay a £80 victim surcharge.
PC Sean Redman, who investigated, said: “This incident affected a lot of people and could have quite easily resulted in much more damage and devastation.
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“Dangerous driving is a serious offence and the sentence reflects this.”
It took some time to recover the vehicle which was off road; the A141 was closed both ways between Knights End Road and the B1101 Wimblington road.
Police initially warned the road could be closed for much of the morning.
Passengers on the 70-seater coach belonging to Peterborough-based Bluefox Transport told how quick-thinking driver Abdul Haq saved their lives by swerving to avoid a head-on collision with a lorry.
But Mr Haq, who was driving the coach load of workers from Vital Recruitment in Peterborough to Albert Bartletts in Chatteris, shrugged off the praise.
Mr Haq described the moment when he realised a lorry was heading straight towards his coach as it tried to overtake along the by-pass at around 6.15am.
Mr Haq said: “I was coming from Peterborough driving on this side when suddenly a lorry coming in the opposite direction tried to overtake.
“He came in my lane and I tried to brake but there was no room and I swerved there was no other way - otherwise there would have been a head-on (collision), it would have been very bad.
“There was no other way when some idiot comes in front of you, you have to swerve.”
Mr Haq described how his coach ‘capsized’ into the ditch and everybody started shouting.
“I tried to calm them down. I had 70 people on board, a full coach.
“People were shouting I tried to calm them and then I opened the fire door and took everybody out one by one,” he said.
The coach driver’s quick thinking earned him praise from the passengers who mostly escaped unhurt. Only one woman in her fifties suffered serious injuries, including a broken leg.
“She was the only one, everyone else was mostly shocked,” said Mr Haq.