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Bus crash driver jailed for 5 years

Section:  Dumfries and West

A SPEEDING bus driver who killed a Rangers fan in a horror crash was yesterday jailed for five years.

Callum Phillips, 49, from Dalbeattie, was driving at speeds of up to 73mph shortly before the collision in which Ryan Baird, 39, died.

The bus, which had 37 passengers on board from the Nith Valley Rangers supporters’ club aged from six to 60, was described as ‘like a roller coaster’ as it entered Crossroads Roundabout on the A76 near Kilmarnock around 1 pm on October 1 2016.

It smashed into a lamppost and then skidded along on its side before coming to a halt.

Mr Baird, from Sanquhar, died trapped in the wreckage, Graeme Slider, 30, from Thornhill, suffered a fractured pelvis, John Campbell, 69, needed skin grafts on his arms and John Torrance suffered fractured ribs and internal bleeding.

Last month a jury at the High Court in Glasgow convicted Phillips of causing the death of Mr Baird by dangerous driving.

Yesterday Judge Lady Stacey jailed Phillips and disqualified him from driving or having a licence for five years.

She 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.”

The judge added: “You didn’t mean to endanger your passengers, but you did show a shocking lack of care in your driving.”

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

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

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

He claimed that the brakes on the Iveco bus were not working, but experts from the DVSA and from an Iveco dealership, who examined the brakes, found no defects.

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.”

He also disputed the tachograph evidence which showed he drove for considerable periods of the hour-long drive from Thornhill at 63mph and at one point at 73mph.

Claiming that his driving had been “normal” and that no one had ever complained, he told the officers: “I believed the maximum speed on that bus was 62mph. I don’t think I was doing 73mph.”

Phillips admitted in evidence that he never once looked at his speedometer during the journey and claimed that “everyone drives at 10mph above the speed limit.”

Passengers on the bus told the court that 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 Phillips is “all too aware of the serious nature of this tragic case”.

He said 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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