Sydney bus driver accused of kidnapping schoolchildren

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Friday, May 6, 2005

A Sydney bus driver dropped off a group of Mater Maria Catholic College school children at a Brookvale bus depot on Thursday, rather than following the normal route near their homes. The Rail, Tram and Bus Union said the incident occurred because the children were misbehaving and racially taunting the driver for a second day in a row. Parents of some of the Warriewood children have conceded that this did occur.

Some parents accused the driver of kidnapping their children, and asked police to press charges. The New South Wales State Government asked to see the CCTV footage, which does not include audio, as part of an inquiry into the incident.

Transport Minister John Watkins dismissed this as an overreaction. "To call it kidnapping or criminal behaviour is right over the top," he said.

The union intends to support the driver, saying that he acted responsibly under the circumstances, and the children were safe at all times.

The opposition transport spokesman Peter Debnam has said that this is not an isolated incident, especially in rural areas, and accused Premier Bob Carr of spinelessness for not supporting bus drivers.