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July 10 2018
By Mel Holley

A former routeone editor, Mel has more than 30 years’ experience in road and rail transport journalism.

Coach driver jailed after fatal
crash caused by speeding

The driver of a Brownriggs coach who crashed at a roundabout killing a passenger has been jailed for five years, and banned from driving for five years on his release.

Callum Phillips, 49, from Dalbeattie, denied killing Ryan Baird, 39, by dangerous driving on the A76 near Kilmarnock in October 2016.

Mr Baird died at the scene from chest and abdomen injures after the coach hit a lamp-post and then skidded on its side.

Glasgow High Court heard that Mr Phillips was driving at up to 73mph on the single-carriageway road shortly before the collision. He claimed the brakes failed, but forensic tests found no defects.

The coach had 37 passengers on board aged from six to 60. The journey was described as “like a roller coaster” as it entered Crossroads Roundabout on the A76 near Kilmarnock about 1300hr on 1 October.

Passenger Heather Geddes, 25, who was on the bus as a birthday treat, described Mr Phillips as “flying down the road with his foot to the floor.”

Mr Baird was trapped in the wreckage while another passenger, Graeme Slider, 30, suffered a fractured pelvis.

John Campbell, 69, needed skin grafts on his arms and John Torrance suffered fractured ribs and internal bleeding.

Jailing Mr Phillips Judge Lady Stacey said: “Your driving caused the death of Ryan Baird. Nothing that this court can do or say can lessen the grief that the family and friends feel at their loss.

“You didn't mean to endanger your passengers but you did show a shocking lack of care in your driving.”

Phillips, who has a previous conviction for speeding in his car in 2015 when he was fined £200, was told that “should have been a warning”

He also has a conviction from 2005 for not wearing a seat belt.

Callum Phillips: Sent to jail for causing death by dangerous driving

The court heard that after the fatal crash, he was off work for two months and then left Brownriggs.

He claimed that the brakes on the Iveco coach were not working. 

But experts from the DVSA and an Iveco dealership, who examined the brakes, found no defects.

Mr Phillips told police: “I reckon I'm doing 50 at that roundabout. I tried to press the brakes. 

“I pressed the brakes and it didn't work. No brakes. It was not slowing me down like it should have.”

Phillips also disputed the tachograph evidence showing he drove for considerable periods of the hour-long drive from Thornhill, Dumfries-shire, at 63mph and at one point at 73mph. 

The speed limit for coach on the A76 is 50mph.

Passengers on the coach told the court that Mr Phillips' driving was “erratic and fast” and said he drove even faster after having to double-back at Cumnock to pick up two people.

Defence counsel Simon Gilbride said Mr Phillips is “all too aware of the serious nature of this tragic case”.

He said Mr Phillips has been “personally affected all the more” because he was friends with Mr Baird and others who were injured and has shown genuine remorse.

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