Jul 12, 2023

Melissa Burr: Woman died after London bus shunted into her, court hears

A woman was killed when a parked bus was shunted into her at London Victoria train station, a court has heard.

Melissa Burr, 32, was propelled into the air and under a parked bus which had been shunted by a vehicle behind driven by Olusofa Popoola.

Ms Burr from Rainham, Kent, suffered multiple injuries and died following the crash on Terminus Place on the morning of 10 August 2021.

Mr Popoola, 60, denies causing her death by dangerous driving.

He is also charged with seriously injuring the other bus driver, Diane Mathuranayagum, who suffered a fractured eye socket when she was thrown onto the pavement from her bus.

Opening his Old Bailey trial on Tuesday, prosecutor Robert Evans said Popoola had been queueing third in a line of buses, with Ms Mathuranayagum's bus in front of him.

When the first bus moved off, Ms Mathuranayagum moved up to the front of the queue, put on the parking brake, got out of her cab and went to stand by the open door.

Ms Burr was the first of three pedestrians to cross in front of the queue of buses.

Mr Evans said: "The parked bus lurched forward. It hit Ms Burr, who was propelled up and forward. The people behind her jumped backwards out of the way.

"The driverless parked bus continued to go forward, it ran over Ms Burr who ended up under the bus and she very sadly died as a consequence of the multiple injuries that she received."

A passenger on the bus was thrown to the floor and suffered minor injuries, the court was told.

At the scene, Mr Popoola, from Peckham, south London, allegedly said he was in the process of stopping when his "foot slipped off the brake and on to the accelerator" and he collided with the bus in front.

In a later prepared statement, he said: "I felt a big collision out of nowhere. I think out of a shock, I may have applied my accelerator more firm instead of the brake. I think I believed that I was pressing the brake.

"I think I pressed the brake eventually to bring my vehicle to a stop but the collision had already taken place. I was in a state of shock. I could not believe what had happened. I remained seated for around a minute. I did not think anyone was hurt, just that I had caused damage to the vehicles."

He said he felt terrible about what had happened.

A crash investigation concluded the defendant had continued to apply the accelerator pedal - rather than a foot brake - after impact with the stationary bus before finally using the parking brake to stop.

Data from his vehicle found it was travelling at around 8mph at the point of collision and reached a peak speed moments before of 10mph.

Mr Evans told the court that prosecutors were not alleging Mr Popoola acted deliberately, adding: "his intentions are neither here nor there."

"Even if the defendant unintentionally pressed the accelerator pedal when he meant to press the brake pedal, that mistake may explain why it is that he drove in the way that he did, but it does not mean that his driving did not fall far below the standard one would expect of a careful and competent driver," he said.

Jurors were shown distressing CCTV footage of the incident in which Ms Burr was struck to assess how Popoola drove.

Mr Evans said: "We suggest it is obvious the way he drove was dangerous."

The trial continues.

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HM Courts & Tribunals Service