Banned after falling asleep

A coach driver who crashed on the M5 while taking a group of children on a trip to the seaside has been banned from driving, after falling asleep at the wheel.

Robert Blakemore, 60, from Wolverhampton, pleaded guilty to driving without due care and attention. He was banned from driving for 15 months, ordered to pay fines and costs of 165 and ordered to take an extended test before regaining his licence.

The Stourbridge-based Prospect Coaches Volvo/Plaxton, carrying 53 people, left the M5 near Stroud, Gloucestershire, on 19 August 2014, and went down an embankment and rolled onto its side. Five adults and one child were injured; one adult broke a bone in her neck. They were on a day trip from West Bromwich to Weston-super-Mare.

Witnesses said Mr Blakemore was driving with his eyes closed and his chin resting on his chest at the time of the crash.

Stroud Magistrates’ Court heard that three passengers said Mr Blakemore woke when the coach was drifting towards the hard shoulder and a girl screamed.

This woke Mr Blakemore, who failed to regain control of the coach.

No mechanical defect was found with the coach and breath tests indicated he had not been drinking.

Mr Blakemore, who is diabetic but had been passed as fit to work, said he had no recollection of the crash and that he had never “blacked out” due to his diabetes.

He told the court he is now on sick pay and unable to work because of a broken leg sustained in the crash. He arrived at the court on crutches. He said he would lose his job if he was disqualified from driving.