Yorkshire bus driver punched nine times quits job over post traumatic stress disorder

A Yorkshire bus driver who was violently assaulted by a passenger had to quit his job after being diagnosed with PTSD.

A bus driver has quit after being punched in the head nine times by a passenger

Mal Lime, aged 56, had been in the job for 20 years when he was brutally attacked by a man angry at being told he could not use cash to pay for his fare due to Covid restrictions in May last year.

Kane Nelson, of Richmond Road, Sheffield, reacted by pulling away the bus’ plastic partition and punching the defenceless driver nine times, before circling around to the near-side window and attempting to hit him again.

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The 33-year-old pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm earlier this month and is preparing to be sentenced later this month.

Now, Mal has shared how the assault forced him to leave a business he “would have happily stuck with until retirement” out of sheer stress.

“I’ve never felt so helpless as on that day,” said Mal. “I completely froze. I didn’t even see the first punch head my way.

“I was a sitting duck. There was nothing I could do. I had my engine running, my seatbelt was on, I had one held up to protect myself and one hand trying to use my cab lock, which wouldn’t work.

“The thing is, if he had just said on the day that he needed help getting into town I would have done it. I’ve done it before. I once gave a free fare to a prisoner with a tag on his ankle who was late getting back to his parole sign-in. If a passenger needed help, I was always happy to.”

Nine months after the assault, in February this year, Mal quit his job as a bus driver for after more than 20 years in the role.

He said it was partly motivated by how he was asked by his company, First South Yorkshire, to continue operating the same number 97 bus route after the attack – leading him on one occasion having to accept Nelson as a passenger.

Mal said: “In those months, the paranoia I felt was unreal – just replaying it in my head, thinking I would see him again. When I had to pick him up one day, I didn’t feel scared, I just sat thinking what I should say.

“I had to drive around with this guy who really did hurt me. When he got off I got out the cab and ran after him and said ‘we’ve met, you attacked me at work’. He replied ‘no mate’, walked a few yards and then ran away.”

Mal says he suffered from flashbacks and nightmares in the months after the attack, until finally he was diagnosed with PTSD.

“My performance at work and health declined dramatically,” said Mal. “I felt trapped and alone and angry. I had to resign, losing my right to pay into my pension after 20 years and my entitlement to free travel.”

Today, Mal says he is receiving treatment for his experiences and is now a qualified heavy goods driver.

“But I will never be a bus driver again,” said Mal. “Whatever happens at the sentencing, I’m just glad I was able to see it through to it going to court.”