Truckie’s alleged act before horror bus crash

Police allege Jamie Gleeson caused a crash that seriously injured 11 children. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Crosling

The lead detective investigating a horror school bus crash involving dozens of children has revealed why he believes an off-duty truck driver is at fault.

Jamie Gleeson, 50, returned before the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday as he was committed to stand trial on charges of dangerous driving causing serious injury.

Supported by his father, Robert Gleeson, the veteran truck driver sat behind his lawyer as Detective Senior Constable David Morris was called to give evidence.

Jamie Gleeson (centre), his father Robert (left) and lawyer James Anderson (right) arrive at the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Nicki Connolly

Facing questioning by defence lawyer James Anderson, Constable Morris told the court that police alleged Mr Gleeson was driving too close to the bus and was inattentive.

“We say he’s too close, he’s not concentrating and by the time he realises he is too close … it was too late,” he said.

“He doesn’t even have time to take evasive action and hits the bus with considerable force – enough to push it on its side.”

Prosecutors allege Mr Gleeson was on his way home after a shift delivering clay in Melbourne when he struck a school bus near Eynesbury on May 16 last year.

The bus was packed with 45 students from Exford Primary School when it was struck as it attempted to turn right from Exford Rd onto Murphys Rd about 3.40pm and rolled about 1km from the school.

More than a dozen children were hospitalised after the incident. Picture: Nine News.
More than a dozen children were hospitalised after the incident. Picture: Nine News.

The court was told there’s no allegation Mr Gleeson was speeding, under the influence of drugs or alcohol or was aware of any mechanical issues with his truck.

Two children had limbs amputated, eight were rushed to hospital with life-threatening injuries, and a further 30 were described as “walking wounded” after the incident.

Constable Morris was questioned about the extent that police probed the actions of bus driver Graham Stanley, with Mr Anderson noting both Mr Gleeson and another driver, David Woods, did not notice the bus indicating or braking until moments before the turn.

“We would say the bus driver is blameless,” the detective responded.

“There was no evidence to suggest the bus driver was doing anything other than what he normally would do.”

Mr Gleeson will next appear in the County Court in May. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Crosling

He told the court that Mr Gleeson was responsive when questioned by detectives and gave “many different explanations” for how the crash unfolded.

After the crash, Mr Gleeson allegedly told investigators that he recalled seeing the bus driving about 80m ahead of him, then “all of a sudden I saw brake lights”.

“I tried to take evasive action but I couldn’t,” he said.

Mr Gleeson was initially charged with 11 offences of dangerous driving causing serious injury, however at the conclusion of the hearing prosecutors withdrew one charge.

A further three were dismissed by Magistrate Kieran Gilligan after Mr Anderson successfully argued there was insufficient medical evidence to support the threshold of “substantial and protracted” injuries.

He pointed to evidence from forensic physician Dr John Gall who said his assessment that the injuries suffered met the threshold was “speculative” and there had not been any follow up with the children to confirm lasting impact.

The court was told there was no alternative charge of dangerous driving causing injury available.

Mr Gleeson pleaded not guilty and was committed to stand trial in the County Court after Mr Gilligan found he was satisfied the evidence could support a conviction on seven charges.