The family of one of the women who died in the horrific Avoca bus crash says they are unhappy the driver received a non-custodial sentence.
But Bradley Glenister, whose mother Ethel, died as a result of the crash, said the sentence did give the heartbroken family some closure.
Sebastopol's Lionel Calf was convicted and sentenced to a three-year community corrections order at the County Court in Ballarat on Friday. He was disqualified from driving for 18 months.
The 71-year-old was on trial at the County Court in Ballarat, but halfway through, he pleaded guilty to two counts of dangerous driving causing death and six counts of dangerous driving causing serious injury.
Mr Glenister hinted the COVID-19 outbreak disrupted the trial.
"The sentence is probably not the way we would liked to have had that go but as we said with this virus, it has sort of done harm to a lot of things and it has interfered with the trial, unfortunately. But we now have closure so we have to deal with that side of it," Mr Glenister said.
"It's been very important to have some result and to have something come to an end. As I said, two-and-a-half years is a long time.
"It's probably something we will never get over but we will learn to live with it. More importantly, we will hopefully get to see those other ladies and support them."
Outside court, Calf did stop to talk to the media but he said he was very, very sorry the crash happened and it was all over now.
The grandfather was driving 27 passengers on board a Ballarat Coachlines bus back to Ballarat after a two-day lawn bowls tournament in Mildura on October 14, 2017.
The bus was travelling south on the Sunraysia Highway near Avoca when it ran off the road on a right-hand bend and rolled at 3.04pm.
The crash killed Creswick woman Carmel Mitchell, 71, and Beaufort woman Ethel Glenister, 87, and seriously injured six other women.
The prosecution argued Calf had enough time to steer the bus back onto the road after it hit the gravel and avoid the fatal crash, while the defence said Calf could not have rectified the coach once it hit the gravel.
Judge Wendy Wilmoth said although there were differences in opinion as to what might have been possible to avoid the crash, there was no dispute it was caused by Calf's "momentarily inattention".
"There is also no dispute, that even accounting for the horrific outcome and the very extensive impact on the victims and their families, the object features of the crash place it in the lowest category of this class of cases," Judge Wilmoth said.
"In this particular case, your inattention caused the bus to leave the bitumen and then circumstances combined to bring about your inability or failure to return the bus to safety.
"The observations of the experts were such that I can draw the inference there were inherent difficulties in being able to achieve that considering the soft edges beyond the bitumen, the size and weight of the bus and the small time frame of seconds in which it could have been possible."
Calf will be required to complete 150 hours of unpaid community work as part of the community corrections order.
- from the Ballarat Courier
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