Killer bus driver to face up to families

WEDDING BUS CRASH
Brett Button (centre) was taken into custody after pleading guilty to a string of charges. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Jeremy Piper.

The driver behind the wheel of a wedding bus when it crashed in NSW’s Hunter Valley killing 10 people and injuring 25 more in one of the nation’s worst ever road accidents will learn his fate in three months time.

Brett Button, 59, appeared before Newcastle District Court on Thursday morning after formally pleading guilty last month to 19 charges, including dangerous driving occasioning death as well as grievous bodily harm.

The court was told the sentence proceedings were expected to take three days before Judge Roy Ellis beginning on Monday, September 9, with as many as 35 victim impact statements to be read out in court.

The police prosecutor said the statements would be read by those injured in the crash as well as the families of those killed, and that as many as 60 people were expected to be in court on behalf of victims.

It comes just one year and two days on from the incident, which scarred the Hunter Valley and Cessnock communities.

WEDDING BUS CRASH
Brett Button was taken into custody after pleading guilty to a string of charges. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Jeremy Piper.

Button was driving guests from a wedding reception at Wandin Valley Estate back to Singleton on June 11 when the bus flipped onto its side at a roundabout at Greta.

At one point, Button faced a whopping 89 charges; ultimately, he pleaded guilty to just 19, with a number of back-up charges expected to be dropped.

Prosecutors previously agreed after a plea deal to drop 10 counts of manslaughter, which triggered anger from the families of some victims.

The 59-year-old will remain in custody on remand while he awaits the commencement of proceedings, but is expected to appear in person for sentencing.

During those proceedings, victims, as well as families and loved ones of victims, are permitted to address the court and read victim impact statements.

BUS DRIVER COURT CASE
Brett Button will face sentencing proceedings later this year. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Damian Shaw.
Chopper Flight - HUNTER BUS CRASH
The bus crashed at a roundabout at Greta in the NSW Hunter Valley. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Christian Gilles.

The crash was one of NSW’s – and Australia’s – worst ever road incidents and sparked immediate calls for reviews of NSW road safety laws.

Andrew Scott, 35, and wife Lynan Scott, 33; Nadene McBride, 52, daughter Kyah McBride, 22, and her partner, Kane Symons, 21, Darcy Bulman, 30, Rebecca Mullen, 26, Zachary Bray, 29, Tori Cowburn, and Angus Craig, 28, were killed in the accident.

Button’s only statement since the accident has been through his solicitor, Chris O’Brien.

“There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about what happened that night,” Mr O’Brien said outside court earlier this year.

“There isn’t an hour that goes by that I’m not thinking of the families that have been affected by the crash.

“Truly for anyone involved including the emergency services, I am devastated by what has occurred and I am truly deeply sorry.”