A bus driver who collected dozens of schoolchildren each day had 49 defects on his vehicle including seven which were classed as ‘dangerous.’
Martin Hewitt appeared at Letterkenny District Court in Co Donegal facing a number of charges after his bus was inspected by Gardai.
It followed concerns expressed by the Road Safety Authority that they had been made aware of a defective bus which was doing school runs.
Garda Sgt Vincent Muldoon said that on February 22nd, last year he went to Murlog National School in Lifford and saw 30 schoolchildren getting off a bus.
He spoke to the driver Martin Hewitt and informed him the RSA wanted the bus to be inspected at a local garage in Letterkenny.
Sgt Muldoon told the court that having tested the vehicle, mechanics found a total of 49 defects of which seven were classed as “dangerous.”
These included an emergency door which would not open properly as well as the floor which he said “moved.”
The court heard that Hewitt has bought the bus for £3,000 Stg in Northern Ireland a few months earlier and it was covered by a test of roadworthiness.
Solicitor for Hewitt, Donough Cleary, said this test had expired in January and that Hewitt had brought the bus to McDaid’s Garage in Letterkenny who outlined a number of areas of work which needed to be completed.
He said his client accepted that the work should have been done and that he should have tested the vehicle as soon as he brought it across the border into Donegal.
He said the bus has since been scrapped.
Hewitt did not have any contracts with Bus Eireann for school runs but carried out the bus run for children who did not qualify for free school transport in the area.
He had been running such a service for 12 years.
However, Judge Paul Kelly said what Hewitt, a father of four of Clonleigh Park Lifford, was doing was dangerous.
“It seems extraordinary that this bus was allowed on the road. He was driving for close to two months without a certificate of roadworthiness to collect schoolchildren. It was a very dangerous situation,” he said.
He fined Hewitt €250.