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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 April, 2004, 15:03 GMT 16:03 UK
Two deny fatal bus crash
The owner of a taxi firm accused of manslaughter after one of his buses crashed told a jury he had checked the vehicle on the day of the accident.

Simon Scotton, 24, of Bedgrove, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, died in the crash on the A41 Berkhamsted bypass in Hertfordshire in July 2002.

Minibus driver Zafar Aqbal, 50, of Aylesbury, denies causing death by dangerous driving.

Bus owner Mohammed Yaqoob, 45, also of Aylesbury, denies manslaughter.

A jury at St Albans Crown Court has heard that the Toyota Hiace minibus, one of two hired from Falcon Cars in Aylesbury for 50 each, was carrying a group of friends back from a comedy club in Watford when it flipped onto its roof.

Mr Scotton received fatal skull and brain injuries. Others in the bus, including the driver Mr Aqbal, were treated at the West Hertfordshire Hospital in Hemel Hempstead.

Bus Inspection

Mr Yaqoob said the minibus used in the crash was hired by Buckinghamshire County Council to take special needs children to school.

The court heard that a local authority inspection had been carried out on the tyre before the crash and the company was informed that one tyre had tread that was on the legal limit.

Mr Yaqoob said that he took the minibus to his brother's neighbouring tyre business.

Both defendants told the police that they had physically inspected tyres and found them ok
Prosecutor Stuart Trimmer

"I told him I wanted a new tyre on it. He said he had no new tyre and he said he had put on a second-hand tyre. I checked the tyre and it looked ok to me," he added.

Prosecutor Stuart Trimmer has alleged that the rear side near tyre was defective, with two bulges in the tread, and that both defendants would have seen the "deficient nature" of the tyre if they had properly inspected it.

Mr Trimmer said: "The bulges on the tyre would have been obvious. A blow-out at low speed would have been controllable but at high speed, losing control would be almost inevitable."

Mr Trimmer said Mr Yaqoob was the owner of the vehicle and had been grossly negligent in using a "cheap part-worn tyre" as a replacement.

Asked by defence barrister Andrew Campbell-Tiech if he had noticed anything wrong with the tyre, Mr Yaqoob replied that he had not.

When asked if he had seen a bulge on the tyre, he said: "I would have changed the tyre or not sent the vehicle out."

The trial continues.

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