UPDATED WITH VIDEO: Hen party minibus driver sentence ‘will never ease the pain’
Relatives and friends of M62 hen party crash victim Bethany Jones say the jailing of the minibus driver will “never ease the pain” of her death.
James Johnson was sentenced to six years and eight months in prison for causing Miss Jones’ death by dangerous driving on the M62 in April last year.
Miss Jones, 18, of Bradley Carr Terrace, South Elmsall, died from multiple injuries after the slow-moving minibus she was travelling in was in collision with an HGV near junction 32 at Pontefract.
The minibus, which was carrying 20 women on a hen party to Liverpool, was shunted 45m off the carriageway and ended up on its side on the slip road.
The devastating crash also left 19 other female passengers injured.
Johnson, 64, admitted his role in the crash on September 29. His sentencing was adjourned until after the conclusion of the trial of trucker Kevin Ollerhead, 45.
The lorry driver, who was in collision with the bus, was found not guilty of causing death by dangerous driving , by a jury on October 24.
He was also cleared of an alternative count of causing death by careless driving.
Johnson, of Whytecote End, Wyke, was also banned from driving for ten years at Leeds Crown Court today (Friday).
Sarah Johnson, speaking on behalf of all those affected by the crash, said: “Today’s court result will never ease the pain and suffering caused to so many by the actions of James Johnson.
“On that day as the ladies got onto James Johnson’s minibus for what was to be the start of a fun packed weekend, nobody could have imagined the devastation that lay ahead.
“The lives of so many have been changed forever more due to the lack of action resulting in the collision.
“The loss of Bethany is deeply felt by not only her loving family Paul, Diane, Amy and Ryan but all those who knew and loved her.
“We now ask that all those involved be allowed to grieve and continue to recover from their injuries in private.”
Sgt Ann Drury of West Yorkshire Police’s Major Collision Enquiry Team, said: “The 26th April 2013 will be a date forever etched into memories of the close knit community of South Elmsall and it saw the commencement of a long and intricate investigation.
“James Johnson was employed as a professional driver to take a group of ladies to Liverpool for what should have been a happy and enjoyable weekend. He failed in his duty that day.
“He also failed to act when his passengers made him aware that there was a problem with the vehicle.
“The subsequent collision the bus was involved in resulted in the death of Bethany Jones and for many, significant life changing injuries as well as the traumatic memory of that day’s events.
“I am pleased the court process has come to an end today with the sentencing of Johnson for his part in a truly appalling incident.
“Our thoughts remain with Beth’s parents, wider family and all those affected by what happened on the M62 that day.”