Bus driver given conditional discharge for assaulting 11-year-old during Belfast trip
A BUS driver has been given a conditional discharge for assaulting an 11-year-old boy during a trip in Belfast.
Albert Gerald Bryson was also ordered the pay £350 compensation to the child.
A judge told the 63-year-old that if he had contested the allegations he may have been jailed.
Bryson, of Colinbrook Avenue in the Dunmurry area of the city, admitted a single charge of common assault.
The case related to a cross-community group's trip to an east Belfast youth club in February last year.
It was alleged that during a stop on Newtownards Road Bryson walked down the bus, kicked the boy's feet off a seat and grabbed him by the collar.
The youth was set to give evidence at a trial listed for hearing at Belfast Magistrates' Court today.
But, instead, Bryson confirmed that he was not contesting the charge.
A defence barrister insisted his client's actions on the day were completely out of character.
"This incident has haunted him for the past year," counsel said.
It is the first and only time it has ever happened in 40 years working as a bus driver."
District Judge Peter Magill acknowledged Bryson's clear record.
"I don't know what happened that day, but clearly you lost it," he told the defendant.
"Any assault on a young person is serious, (and) it's more serious when the person who perpetrated that assault is in a a position of care as, in a sense, you were as the driver of the bus that day."
Imposing a conditional discharge for two years, Mr Magill stressed that if the boy had been put through the ordeal of testifying in a contested hearing he would have considered a prison sentence.
The judge also called the victim's parents into court to pass on his praise.
"Will you please tell him from me he should be proud of the way he dealt with this," he said.
"He made a proper complaint and he had the courage to come here and be ready to give evidence. The boy can hold his head up."