Great Yarmouth lorry driver Philip Last who was jailed for 18 months for dangerous driving showed gross carelessness says judge

PUBLISHED: 17:04 20 April 2017 | UPDATED: 18:28 20 April 2017

Philip Last leaves Ipswich Crown Court after he pleaded guilty to six charges of causing serious injury by dangerous driving after a crash involving a bus and a low loader. Photo: Chris Radburn/PA

Philip Last leaves Ipswich Crown Court after he pleaded guilty to six charges of causing serious injury by dangerous driving after a crash involving a bus and a low loader. Photo: Chris Radburn/PA

A lorry driver has been jailed for 18 months after the steam engine he was carrying on the back of his vehicle crashed into a bus, causing serious injuries to six people.

Philip Last, 53, from Great Yarmouth, was driving in West Mersea, Essex, when the 1920s vintage steam engine fell from his low loader on September 23, 2015.

Ipswich Crown Court heard how Last, of Northgate Street, did not secure the vehicle correctly to his lorry, choosing to use canvas straps at one end of the steam engine instead of four chains in each corner as he had been shown.

Leaving the Henham Steam Rally at Cardinals Park, Ipswich, in September 2015, Last applied brakes when he saw the bus and one of the straps snapped, causing the steam engine to fall onto the bus.

The court heard the driver of the bus – Michael Birch – suffered serious injuries, including a punctured lung and fractured hip and underwent seven operations. He is unable to drive again.

Five other passengers out of 34 who were on the bus also suffered serious injuries, including one who underwent reconstructive surgery to his face.

Peter Gair, prosecutor, said: “As soon as the load was fixed, this was an accident waiting to happen.”

Harry Warner, defending, said: “He has shown genuine remorse and is horrified that his actions led to the injuries they did.

“Not a day goes by that he doesn’t wish he checked and re-checked the load that day.”

Last was also disqualified from driving for 21 months and will have to take an extended test once the ban expires.

Judge David Goodin, sentencing, said: “Your gross carelessness and negligence had grave consequences.

“That extremely heavy piece of kit – the steam engine – fell on a passenger service vehicle and caused what can only be described as life changing injuries to six of the occupants. Other passengers were also injured.

“You took a shortcut. You knew it was a shortcut. You wouldn’t have wished this on anyone for a second but you caused it.”

Speaking after the case, Stephen Hartman, operations manager at First Essex bus company, said: “Michael has been through a long journey, as have all the passengers on the bus, and I am pleased it has finally come to a conclusion and we can move forward.”

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