A DRUGGED-UP lorry driver from Barnsley who smashed into a school bus causing horrific injuries to two pupils has been jailed for three years.

A judge was told how the victims’ lives had been torn apart by the ‘dreadful actions’ of Thomas Abbott, 26, of Limes Avenue, Staincross.

He had cocaine, amphetamine and cannabis in his system when he fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into the single-decker bus, York Crown Court was told.

The 18-tonne truck drifted across the carriageway onto the wrong side of the road, where it mounted the pavement on the opposite side collideding with the parked bus which was dropping schoolchildren off in Monk Fryston, near Selby.

Children were stepping off the bus as the lorry hurtled towards them in what was described as a scene of absolute panic, horror and chaos.

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One of the teenagers - a boy who cannot be named for legal reasons - was struck by the lorry and ‘propelled the full length of the bus’, landing on a grass verge, said prosecutor Stephen Welch.

A schoolgirl standing just inside the door of the bus was catapulted onto the grass verge too the sheer force of the impact.

The boy suffered a triple fracture of the leg, a broken shoulder blade, a broken collarbone, fractured skull, hearing loss, a brain injury, cuts to his face and serious nasal disfigurement.

The girl’s injuries included a broken ankle and fractured hip, serious facial injuries, and she had to have more than 100 stitches in her lip and over the skin, leaving scarring.

Drug tests revealed that Abbott was more than four times over the legal limit for cocaine, nearly three times over the limit for amphetamine and nine times over the limit for cannabis. They also revealed eight different substances were inside his system at the time of the collision, including Valium and Tempazepam.

Abbott was arrested and charged with two counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving and driving while unfit through drugs.

“He said that as he drove towards the bus, he felt dizzy and the next thing he knew his head had bounced off the wheel and he had crashed,” said Mr Welch.

“The prosecution present the case on the basis that the defendant fell asleep at the wheel and the consumption of drugs in his bloodstream was a contributing factor.”

Abbott admitted all charges and appeared for sentence last Thursday during a hearing in which the victims and their families frequently broke down in tears.

The court heard that Abbott already had a criminal record, having racked up 13 offences including serious violence and burglary. In August 2017, magistrates gave him a 12-month disqualification for drink-driving.

James McGowan, for Abbott, said his client had got involved in drugs as a child then relapsed in his older years.

In November last year, he failed to get into the navy but found temporary work as a lorry driver through an agency, making deliveries for a distribution company. He had only been working for the company for just over a week when the horror crash occurred as he was returning to the firm’s depot following his last delivery of the day.

Judge Peter Kelson QC described the youngsters’ injuries as ‘terrible’, and the amount of drugs inside Abbott as ‘shocking’.

“It is a desperately-serious offence of its kind: a man with all these drugs in his blood, driving a lethal weapon,” he said. “It could not be more serious.”

Abbott was jailed for three years and given a five-year driving ban.