Passenger in 30-mile bus trail of destruction avoids jail

A woman who was on board a bus driven by a drunken friend on a 30 mile rampage has been given a suspended jail sentence.

Sarah Smith took the wheel of the single decker herself for about a mile of the escapade after Shane Oldroyd decided to use the vehicle to get home from Wakefield after a Sunday afternoon drinking session.

He left a 250,000 trail of destruction behind him before the vehicle was finally stopped on the M1.

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Smith, 20, then of Duke of York Avenue, Portobello, Wakefield, admitted aggravated vehicle taking and having no insurance.

Sentencing her yesterday at Leeds Crown Court to a nine month jail sentence suspended for two years, Judge Kerry Macgill said while she had driven the vehicle for only a short period she had been involved for the whole journey, choosing not to get off when she could have done.

Her claim to have saved lives by grabbing the wheel at some points was "just nonsense" since she had put herself in the position she was in the first place. "It is in indication of just how warped your thinking is."

But the judge said he accepted she had suffered serious injuries in an incident in October 2008 which had left her with ongoing problems. He was satisfied that Oldroyd was the "leading light" in the bus incident and was prepared to give her a chance.

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He ordered supervision as well as the suspended sentence and disqualified her from driving for 18 months. When Smith told him: "Can I please say thank you very much sir?" Judge Macgill responded; "You have got an opportunity think very carefully where you are going in the future. This was a disgraceful piece of behaviour on your part."

Oldroyd, 27, of Bridle Lane, Gawthorpe, Ossett, is already serving an indeterminate sentence for public protection with a minimum of three and a half years for his involvement in taking the bus and other offences

Simon Haring, prosecuting, said that on Sunday, August 16 the pair got on to the empty Arriva bus at Wakefield bus station and he decided to drive home because they had run out of money for the fare.

He destroyed road signs, hit cars, nearly crushing a motorist inside one, and smashed into a photo shop as he drove through Ossett, Dewsbury, Batley and on to the M1 where police stopped them with a stinger. He was driving over the limit but Smith was not.

Rob Casey, for Smith, said she was vulnerable and had a troubled upbringing. A psychiatrist assessed her suffering from post traumatic stress from a 2008 attack in which she was severely injured.