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No conviction

The Tranzit bus being towed out of the paddock it crashed into just north of Eketahuna last July. PHOTO/FILE

Sleeping bus driver’s lenient sentence
Reparations for victims

A 70-year-old Tranzit bus driver who fell asleep at the wheel and crashed while transporting 41 passengers was discharged without conviction on five charges of careless driving causing injury in the Masterton District
Court on Tuesday.

Graeme Alexander Chapman had earlier pleaded guilty to the charges which related to a crash near Eketahuna on July 13 last year.

Defence lawyer Steve Taylor said it was a sad day for Chapman who had, until the crash, an unblemished record over 50 years as a driver.

“Never had an accident, never had a mishap,” Taylor said of his client.

Chapman had picked up passengers from Auckland at 10.30pm on July 12 before driving south.

At Taupo he stopped for 30 minutes before continuing driving towards Masterton.

Just before 7am north of Eketahuna, the bus ploughed straight ahead into a paddock after failing to turn around a left-hand bend.

Chapman admitted to “nodding off”.

He claimed that he had no warning, but admitted he was careless for falling asleep.

Within days of the crash, Chapman was checked over by a doctor and tested for his driving ability, Taylor said, adding that he was cleared on both fronts.

Judge Barbara Morris said that as a result of the crash five people were injured, “fortunately not severely”.

Nevertheless, it impacted them, the judge said.

She said in terms of culpability it was at the lower level.

Chapman had the necessary rest expected of a commercial driver during an evening shift.

She said he was a man who had driven commercial vehicles for 50 years with no mishaps or accidents, which was probably unusual.


  1. Perhaps, if driving commercial vehicles for 50 years with no mishaps or accidents is unusual, then it’s too long?

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