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Sunday 20 April 2014

Bus rampage driver admits death collision

Bus driver Peter Clarke (38) leaves court yesterday where he denies 28 charges including manslaughter

A former bus driver has admitted that a 62-year-old mother died of multiple injuries as a result of a collision involving her car and a bus he took on a rampage through west Dublin two years ago.

Peter Clarke (38) of Kiltalown Court, Tallaght is on trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on charges arising out of what the jury was told was "an odyssey of destruction" resulting in Marie Buckley's death.

Defence counsel Hugh Hartnett made the admissions on Clarke's behalf and said he took a 53-seater coach without permission from Dualways Bus Company depot.

It collided with numerous vehicles, resulting in Ms Buckley's death "from multiple injuries to her head, chest, pelvis and lower limbs, consistent with being dragged along the road as the bus ploughed through vehicles in front of her dark blue Nissan Micra".

Clarke also admitted driving at gardai as they attempted to employ a 'stinger' device to deflate the bus's tyres, and to producing a knife, knuckle-duster and hatchet while violently resisting arrest.

A garda in an unmarked patrol car, lodged at the front of the rampaging bus and shunted sideways into oncoming traffic, believed Clarke "intended to kill all the gardai in his path".

Garda Paul Comerford told prosecutor Pauline Walley he saw Clarke "snarl his teeth", and drop his head just before he veered right on Dublin's Naas Road, inbound, and rammed into his unmarked Ford Mondeo and another garda car.

Gda Comerford put his blue Ford Mondeo into reverse but the bus was on top of him and carried the car 100 metres into oncoming traffic -- on the other side of the road -- after crossing the Luas junction.

He heard the bus's engine increase in power as the car and three trapped gardai were carried faster down the road into a stationary line of vehicles.

Gda Comerford was shouting "Oh shit, oh shit!", and thought he was going to die. His colleague cried out that he wouldn't see his wife and daughter again. Garda control had mentioned the bus driver "might be unstable".

The three gardai had to move in towards the centre of the cabin as it was being crushed and torn on either side by the cars it ploughed into.

Gda Comerford was amazed that he and his colleagues were alive when the car finally separated from the bus.

A lady was lying on the road beside their crushed car and his colleague staggered out of his door to help her.

Screaming

The driver of one of the cars struck by the bus said the trapped Ford Mondeo slowed the bus down and saved his life and the lives of many other drivers and passengers.

Witness Brendan Flynn said that, when he saw the bus accelerate the wrong way down the road, he jumped out of his car and ran back through the line of traffic screaming at drivers to get out of their cars.

Clarke's former boss at Dualways, David McConn, recalled that he got a call on the morning of the May 7, 2006 rampage to say Clarke took the wrong bus from the depot.

Mr McConn spotted the coach and followed it into Heuston Station bus park.

He walked up to the driver's side, indicating to Clarke to roll down his window, which Clarke did. He was wearing sunglasses, had loud music playing and was smirking. When his boss asked Mr Clarke if he was confused about his bus route, he replied "No" in a calm voice.

Mr McConn stood in front of the bus in a "five or six second stand-off" but Clarke refused to pull the bus aside before he accelerated towards him.

Mr McConn then rang the gardai to tell them one of his bus drivers was out of control, and chased the bus up the Naas Road.

The trial continues today.

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