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Bus driver shoved boy with autism into a bush

By Braintree Chronicle  |  Posted: May 24, 2012

ASSAULT:   Allan Ketley

ASSAULT: Allan Ketley

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A SCHOOL bus driver grabbed an autistic boy by the arm and pushed him into a bush.

Allan Ketley, 63, was responsible for driving a group of disabled children from a school in Braintree to their homes.

On March 3 this year, Ketley picked the children up from school and, while driving, he became annoyed by the behaviour of a 14-year-old boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

Ketley, whose wife was also on board as an escort for the children, pulled the bus over just outside the Dolphin Pub on the A120 near Coggeshall and yanked the teenager off it, before pushing him with both hands into a bush.

At the trial at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court on Monday, Ketley said that at no time did he physically touch the boy, although he did threaten to push him.

He said: "I was trying to show him how it felt to be nasty."

But magistrates found Ketley guilty of assault by beating and he will be sentenced next month.

The court heard that the boy had been singing repetitive songs that were making the other children jump.

When the boy gave evidence he also admitted that he had been playing with the seatbelt of a girl in a wheelchair and misbehaved when he was asked to stop.

Ketley said that he had asked the boy to behave but he continued to disrupt the others, which is why he decided to pull over.

Prosecutor Anne Gray said: "He is a bus driver and obviously cares about his job and he has obviously built up quite a relationship with the children, but nevertheless it's clear that he hasn't had training with autism.

"It's quite clear that the boy's behaviour disturbed him at times. He said it was upsetting to the other children. He said he wasn't angry and yet he chose to stop the bus on the A120. It was quite a drastic move."

The boy's mother also gave evidence at the trial. She said that she saw Ketley "wagging his finger" at her son who also had red eyes and looked as though he had been crying.

Ketley denied the charge against him.

Defending, Anna Pereira said that there was no sign of injury on the boy.

She added: "Perhaps with hindsight Mr Ketley may have decided that there's another way of dealing with it. But you have to remember that he is driving a bus with children who have a right to be safe. The boy is not the only one who has to be protected. His rights are not supreme.

"The driver's responsibility is to drive a bus only when it is safe to do so."

Ketley was found guilty of assault by beating.

Chief magistrate Glynnis Davies said: "We find the evidence of the boy to be consistent, honest, clear and credible."

Ketley will be sentenced on June 15

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