Jury finds former Leamington mayor caused two deaths while driving dangerously

Former Mayor of Leamington Spa Kailash Chander. Photo by SWNS/News Team.
Former Mayor of Leamington Spa Kailash Chander. Photo by SWNS/News Team.

A jury has today (Tuesday) found a bus driver who killed two people - including a Leamington schoolboy - caused their deaths by dangerous driving.

Former Leamington mayor Kailash Chander was found unfit to stand trial at Birmingham Crown Court on medical grounds.

Rowan Fitzgerald. Photo by SWNS/News Team.

Rowan Fitzgerald. Photo by SWNS/News Team.

But following a finding of the facts trial, to establish if the 80-year-old committed the offences, a jury found he did cause two deaths by dangerous driving.

He was also found to have caused serious injury by dangerous driving.

Rowan Fitzgerald, aged seven, and pedestrian Dora Hancox, 76, were both killed in the crash on October 3, 2015.

Jurors heard Chander made a “gross driver error” and displayed “shockingly bad

driving” after he had worked three consecutive 75-hour weeks.

Prosecutor Andrew Thomas QC said: “As it pulled off [from a bus stop], the bus immediately collided with the back of another bus, a single decker, which was waiting in front of it.

“That was a glancing blow. The double decker then continued on, accelerating to a dangerous speed for that road, at one point veering off the road and onto a grass verge.

“Pedestrians had to run to avoid being hit. The bus collided with a lamp post and several flag poles, knocking them down.

“Sadly, not all of the pedestrians were able to get out of the way. Mrs Dora Hancox, who was 76 years old, was crossing the road.

“She was struck by the double-decker bus and then struck again by the falling lamp post. She was killed by those blows.

“Even after that collision, the bus carried on. It went on to hit the front of the Sainsbury’s supermarket.

“The front of the bus was badly crushed by the collision, in particular to the top deck.

“A seven-year-old boy named Rowan Fitzgerald, who had been sat in the front seat on the top deck, was killed.

“Two other passengers, including Rowan’s eight-year-old cousin, suffered very serious injuries.”

The court heard Chander had a string of near misses before the crash but was still allowed to drive the bus.

Between 2012 and October 3, 2015, he struck a piece of street furniture, reversed into another bus at the depot, caused a rear end collision with a car, and struck a gate as he was returning to the depot.

Rowan’s grandfather, John Wilson, told the jury: “Rowan and Paige ran on the bus and up the stairs followed by John. I got on and showed the tickets.

“I was just about to sit down when the bus hit a car.

“When the bus we were on pulled out it was as if the bus driver was angry because the bus made a growling noise. It pulled out and jerked.

“The bus swerved to the left and the bus shot forwards travelling at 50 or 60mph. I ran towards my grandkids.

“It was about 15 seconds in time from the bus lane to hitting Sainsbury’s.

“We hit Sainsbury’s and I had fallen to the floor. I heard a bang at the point of collision.

“I saw Paige first and she said ‘Rowan’s dead grandad’. She said ‘I’m going to die as well grandad’.

“I did not want to believe her. I was hoping he wasn’t dead and he had just been knocked out.”