No jail for fatal Vic bus crash driver

Georgie Moore
Carmel Mitchell died when a bus carrying 27 passengers careened down an embankment

A bus driver won't go to jail for a crash killing two women on their way home from a bowls tournament in country Victoria.

Passengers Carmel Mitchell, 71, and 87-year-old Ethel Glenister died after Lionel Calf lost control of his bus at Tanwood on October 14, 2017.

Calf, now 71, avoided jail in the County Court of Victoria on Friday after admitting to two charges of dangerous driving causing death and six of dangerous driving causing serious injury.

The experienced and highly-regarded driver lost control on a bend after a moment's inattention on the way back from the Mildura tournament.

The night before the crash, the bowls team had held a presentation thanking Calf for driving them.

Ms Mitchell died at the scene, while Ms Glenister died a week later in hospital.

Some of Calf's 27 passengers told his trial of the harrowing moments they hung from their seatbelts after the bus careened down the embankment.

One woman suffered a ruptured spleen, broken ribs and a punctured lung, while another had part of her calf removed.

Calf told police he'd tried to swerve to avoid a kangaroo, but there was no evidence of this.

He was not speeding, not affected by drugs or alcohol and wasn't fatigued.

Calf will serve his three-year sentence at home under a community correction order.

He pleaded guilty towards the end of his trial, but Judge Wendy Wilmoth said the belated plea still saved the court and community time, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic.

Calf must perform 150 hours of unpaid community work and is banned from getting another driver's licence for 18 months.

Former colleagues and friends described the great-grandfather as compassionate and a man of integrity with an exemplary work ethic.