Bradford minibus driver in court over hen party crash

Minibus driver James Johnson, of Wyke, is accused of causing death by dangerous driving

Minibus driver James Johnson, of Wyke, is accused of causing death by dangerous driving

First published in News

A Bradford minibus driver has appeared in court charged with causing death by dangerous driving following the M62 hen party crash in which teenager Bethany Jones was killed.

James Johnson, 63, of Whytecote End, Wyke, spoke only to confirm his name, age and address during a five-minute-long hearing at Wakefield Magistrates’ Court yesterday.

He appeared in the dock alongside Kevin Ollerhead, 44, of Lincoln Crescent, St Helens, Merseyside, who faces the same charge of causing death by dangerous driving in connection with the crash.

Bethany, 18, of South Elmsall, died when the minibus she was travelling in was involved in a crash with an articulated lorry on the M62 at junction 32 near Pontefract on April 26 last year.

In total, 21 women were injured in the collision, including bride-to-be Stefanie Firth as well as Miss Jones’s mother and sister.

They had been travelling from South Elmsall to Liverpool for a hen party.

Johnson, who was dressed in a pink shirt and purple tie, has been charged with causing Bethany’s death by driving a Mercedes Vario mini coach dangerously on the M62 at Castleford on April 26 2013.

Ollerhead, wearing a blue suit, has been charged with causing Bethany’s death by driving a Daf goods vehicle dangerously at the same location and on the same date.

No pleas were entered.

Samantha Davidson, prosecuting, told the court that the case could only be heard at crown court.

Deputy District Judge Philip Holden told the defendants: “Because of the nature of these charges, they have to pass through the magistrates’ court very quickly to a more senior court called the crown court. I am sending the charges against each of you to the crown court at Leeds for a preliminary hearing on February 3 in the morning.”

Both defendants were released on unconditional bail until the next hearing.

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