A27 death crash proprietor fined £75
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SIX DAYS before a coach crashed at Dibbles Bridge in the Yorkshire Dales, killing 32 people, a driver who had taken the vehicle on the trip to Redcar had telephoned his boss to say he was not satified with the brakes, Mr Graham GrantWhyte, prosecuting, told Skipton magistrates last week.
Norman William Riley, 51, who runs Riley's Luxury Coaches from Thornaby-onTees, pleaded guilty to using a motor vehicle on which the braking system was not maintained in efficient working order and properly adjusted. Riley was fined £75. His licence was not endorsed.
Mr Grant-Whyte said the charge arose out of a tragic road accident at Dibbles Bridge off A27. The Bedford 45-seater single-deck coach owned by Riley's Luxury Coaches, was being used for a ladies' outing.
The coach had approached a three-quarter-mile long hill, which at one stage had a 1 in 6 gradient leading down to Dibbles Bridge, and during the descent went out of control. It plunged through the bridge parapet on the nearside and fell about 16ft into a grass area where it landed upside down on its roof.
Vehicle examiners were called to the crash and it was noticed that the hand brake lever was in a fully applied position. Examiners found the offside rear wheel could be rotated freely, claimed Mr Grant-Whyte. The wreckage was removed from the scene for more detailed examination.
Certain defeats •in the offside rear brakes were found, he said, which had the effect that there was no movement of the brake-shoes or resistance to the rotating of the wheel when both hand-brake levers and foot-brake pedals were fully applied.
In a statement to the police Riley said he ran three motor coaches and had been in business about 17 years.
Of the morning of May 27, the day of the accident, he said he remembered checking the oil of the coach to make sure it had plenty in. "The coach seemed all right and I made no more further checks," said Mr Riley. On May 19 some defects which had been found on the vehicle, a weepy cylinder and oil soaked front brake liners, were replaced.
On May 21 the driver who had taken the coach to Redcar telephoned to say he was not satisfied with the brakes.
His mechanic adjusted the brakes and there were no further complaints.
Defending, Mr J 0 h n McKenna told the court : " There are two more victims of this crash, Mr and Mrs Riley." He said no man could have done more to avoid such an accident than Norman Riley. The Crown coroner, police, DoE and everyone concerned had accepted that Mr Riley had no knowledge of defects.