A bus driver who was jailed for just over five years over a 2016 incident that saw the coach he was driving slam into Melbourne’s notorious Montague St Bridge has had his criminal conviction rather sensationally quashed by an Appeals Court this afternoon.
Jack Asten was driving a Gold Bus Ballarat coach on February 22, 2016 when it slammed into the infamous bridge – which at that point did not have height and safety gantries installed on either side of the bridge. The crash left six people injured, and Asten was subsequently found guilty on six counts of negligently causing serious injury.
This afternoon, the Court of Appeal upheld Asten’s appeal of the five year, three month jail sentence he was handed, with one Judge asserting that a “substantial miscarriage of justice” had occurred.
Asten’s sentence had been slammed as manifestly excessive by his legal counsel and supporters ever since he was handed it a little under one year ago. Despite a clean criminal record prior to the 2016 crash, Asten was given the five-year sentence which carried with a non-parole period of two-and-a-half years.
In presenting his appeal, lawyers for Asten asserted there had been a grave misstep on the behalf of the prosecution in failing to declare the existence of the lesser alternative charge of dangerous driving causing serious injury, which carries a far more lenient maximum penalty.
Asten is now set to be re-sentenced by appeals judges on the lower charge, however lawyers for Asten assert he should be released on time already served and placed on a community corrections order.
Appeals judges refused suggestions Asten should be released on bail while his re-sentencing takes place, however he is now being assessed for a CCO, and legal representatives hold strong hope the 55-year-old will be released from jail in time for Christmas.