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Woman died under shunted bus outside Victoria station, court told

Melissa Burr, 32, suffered multiple injuries and died following the rush hour crash on Terminus Place on August 10 2021.

Melissa Burr

A woman was propelled into the air and under a parked bus as it was shunted forward outside London’s Victoria railway station, a court has heard.

Melissa Burr, 32, suffered multiple injuries and died following the rush hour crash on Terminus Place on the morning of August 10 2021.

Bus driver Olusofa Popoola, 60, is on trial at the Old Bailey accused of causing her death by dangerous driving and causing serious injury to bus driver Diane Mathuranayagum.

Opening his trial on Monday, prosecutor Alex Williams said the bus terminus at Victoria was particularly busy that morning because the Circle and District Tube line was down.

The defendant was queuing up third in a line of 507 buses taking passengers from Victoria to Waterloo, with Ms Mathuranayagum’s bus in front of him.

When the first 507 bus moved off, Ms Mathuranayagum moved up to the front, put on the brake and got out, standing by the open door, jurors heard.

Ms Burr, from Rainham, Kent, was the first of three pedestrians to cross in front of the line of buses.

Mr Williams said: “The parked bus lurched forward. It hit Ms Burr who was propelled up and forward. The people behind her jumped back out of the way.

“The driver of the bus was thrown out of the door of the parked bus and on to the pavement.

“The driverless parked bus did not stop but continued to go forward, running over Ms Burr who ended up under the bus and very sadly died as a consequence of the multiple injuries that she received.”

An off-duty police officer on the bus was thrown to the floor and received minor injuries, the Old Bailey was told.

An investigation into the crash found the defendant did not apply the brake and his right foot was in the vicinity of the accelerator.

And following the impact with the rear of the stationary bus, the defendant continued to apply the accelerator pedal rather than applying the foot brake, before finally stopping his vehicle with the parking brake, the court heard.

Mr Williams said: “The force of the impact from the bus driven by the defendant, into the rear of the parked bus, pushed the previously stationary bus forward and into Ms Burr, who had been crossing the bus bay ahead of it.

“The parking brake had remained applied to the front bus throughout this movement.”

Data from the defendant’s bus found it was travelling at around 8mph at the point of collision and reached a peak speed of around 10mph.

Mr Williams said Popoola, from Peckham, south London, had admitted causing Ms Burr’s death by careless driving but denied his driving was dangerous.

He told jurors: “The prosecution does not say that the defendant drove dangerously deliberately, but his intentions are neither here nor there.

“He depressed the accelerator pedal with his foot, moving the electric bus forward – driving it forward – and he continued to drive it forward even after his bus had hit the bus in front.

“He then drove forward for pretty much the whole length of the bus in front, accelerating as he did so, shunting that parked bus, which had its own parking brake on, in a way that was obviously dangerous and which caused both the pedestrian’s death and serious injury to the other driver.”

He added: “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.”

Jurors were told they would have to view “distressing” CCTV of Ms Burr being struck by the bus to assess how Popoola was driving.

The Old Bailey trial continues.

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