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Wednesday, March 3, 1999 Published at 21:03 GMT


Bus driver 'ruffled murdered boy's hair'

Jamie's body was found five months after he disappeared

Witnesses have told a murder trial they saw a bus driver ruffling the hair of a schoolboy he is accused of killing.

Jamie Lavis was also seen changing the gears, working the ticket machine and counting money on a bus driven by Darren Vickers, a jury at Manchester Crown Court was told.

Mr Vickers, 28, denies abducting and murdering the eight-year-old, who went missing after catching a bus in Manchester in May 1997. His dismembered body was found later at Reddish Vale golf course.

The court was told that Jamie was seen on board the 219 bus from Stalybridge to Manchester, which Mr Vickers was driving.

Played with gear stick

One passenger said the bus was shaking and swaying and briefly mounted the kerb after Mr Vickers allowed Jamie to play with the gear stick.

Lindsay Barrett said the boy was also playing with the buttons on the ticket machine.

She said: "The little boy was messing with the gears and the bus driver mounted the kerb like he wasn't paying attention and we all jolted forward."

Miss Barrett said she had assumed the boy was the driver's son.

Another passenger, Alice Abbot, said she had jumped to the same conclusion and asked him: "Are you having a day out with your dad?"

'He's my uncle'

She told the jury: "He just rolled his eyes at the driver, then back at me and said 'No with my uncle'."

Lilian Wagstaff said she saw Mr Vickers ruffle the boy's hair with her hand.

The prosecution allege Mr Vickers, who lived near the Lavis family in Gorton, Greater Manchester, was "befriending, grooming and effectively seducing" Jamie before murdering him.

The trial continues.

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