Judge queries how school bus with “serious defects” had valid NCT

A judge halted proceedings against the driver of a school bus found to have 19 “serious defects” only three months after it passed its NCT, in order to hear from the proprietor of the garage where this certificate was issued.

Before Judge Seamus Hughes was Gordon Hudson (44 ), with an address in Barrymore, Roscommon Road, Athlone whose vehicle had been stopped in a Department of Transport operation on school buses, at 9.05am on May 18, 2010 whilst there were children on board.

The 1995- registered vehicle had a total of “19 serious defects” in its braking, steering, suspension, transmission and tyres, according to Superintendent Aidan Glacken.

“The defects would be so serious as to make the vehicle unstable,” the court heard.

However, at this point Hudson’s solicitor, Mark Cooney, told the court how his client’s vehicle had a valid NCT certificate from February 2010 which he handed into the court staff.

“What do you have to say about that, Superintendent?” asked Judge Hughes.

“That’s something of a contradiction,” conceded Superintendent Glacken.

The judge then asked the Superintendent if he had ever come across anything like this before, and bizarrely, the answer was yes.

“Yes, judge. There was one other vehicle on the same day that had a valid NCT and had more defects than the defendant’s,” said Supt Glacken.

“This is a very serious matter, but it is a strict liability defence. What does your client say?” said the judge.

“He was very shocked that this would happen after he had obtained a valid [NCT] cert,” said Mr Cooney.

“I will adjourn this case because I want the principal person in this [named] garage to come to court and be questioned about how he came to issue this certificate,” said Judge Hughes.

“I want to be satisfied he carried out the test to the fullest extent of his abilities. Superintendent, can you organise this?” he asked.

Supt Glacken said he would, and the judge reminded him he also wanted the evidence from the other vehicle to which he referred from the same day, and adjourned proceedings to April 20.

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