Montague Street Bus Driver Freed From Jail As Conviction Quashed
A Melbourne bus driver who crashed into the notorious Montague Street bridge, seriously injuring six passengers, will walk free from prison.
Cheers and claps rang out through the courtroom on Monday as Jack Aston was re-sentenced to a two-year community corrections order, after serving 10 months jail time.
Despite having a clean record and no drugs or alcohol in his system, the 56-year-old was handed a five year, three-month jail sentence in December for the 2016 crash.
A jury had found him guilty of six charges of negligently causing injury.
The sentence sparked outrage, with even the injured passengers calling for him not to be handed jailtime.
Last week his conviction was overturned by the court of appeal.
It heard that during Aston's 12-day trial the prosecution didn't present the lesser charge of dangerous driving causing injury as an option to the jury.
"It wasn't mentioned at all throughout the whole trial... extraordinary," defence lawyer Catherine Boston said. "A substantial miscarriage of justice has occurred."
In granting the appeal, Justice Stephen Kaye said describing the earlier decision as "gross negligence".
"The prosecutor failed in this case... I feel very disappointed," Kaye said.
On Monday, Aston walked from the courthouse hand in hand with his wife Wendy, daughter Megan and son Ben.
"I feel really good," Aston told reporters before apologising to his passengers and thanking family, friends and "all of the people of Victoria for their love and support".
"It's gotten us four through the last 306 days," he said. "Freedom is a good thing".
Aston urged Premier Daniel Andrews to act now before the infamous Montague Street Bridge "takes a life".
It's not yet known if the family will pursue compensation.