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Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 October 2006, 17:51 GMT
Accident verdict over coach crash
The coach after the crash in 1990
The coach careered off the A6 motorway
Verdicts of accidental death have been recorded on 11 tourists who died after a speeding coach went off a motorway and crashed in France 16 years ago.

Six passengers from Shropshire and five from the West Midlands were killed in the accident 80 miles south of Paris.

Coroner Michael Gwynne, said the deaths had been aggravated by the excessive speed of the vehicle and a failure to check tyre pressures.

The inquest was delayed by appeals over the driver's manslaughter conviction.

Courier 'laughed'

The hearing was told the double-decker coach, run by a Shropshire-based firm, was travelling from Spain's Costa Brava to Calais in France in June 1990.

It ended up on its side and crashed through concrete fence posts into a field after its front offside tyre burst.

Valerie Reynolds, whose husband Michael died in the crash, told the hearing the coach was being "pushed on" as it was running late.

Mrs Reynolds said passengers had expressed concerns to a female courier about the coach swaying and going too fast, but she laughed.

It should have been travelling at no more than 56mph (90km/h) but a tachograph showed it was doing 78mph (126km/h).

'Sad tale'

The driver, John Johnstone, from Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, was given a suspended prison term by a French court in 2003 after being convicted of involuntary manslaughter.

Appeals against it meant paperwork for the inquest was not sent to Britain until earlier this year. The driver died in August of natural causes, aged 68.

Mr Gwynne, the Telford and Wrekin Coroner, said: "You have heard the sad tale of how matters just went on.

"Never have I experienced the sort of lack of information which I was given every time I made a request over the 16 years this has gone on."




SEE ALSO
Bus driver guilty of 1990 deaths
03 Jul 03 |  Staffordshire

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