Bus driver in Malta was on cocaine ‘come down’ when he crashed and left Brit paralysed, court hears


Sightseeing bus driver in Malta was on ‘come down’ from cocaine when he crashed into tree and left British tourist paralysed, High Court hears as victim’s family launch damages claim

  • Rob Butt was left tetraplegic and wheelchair dependent after the Malta crash
  • Mr Butt and his wife and three children were all injured in the tour bus smash
  • Lawyers say driver was on a ‘come down’ from cocaine when he was driving
  • The crash killed two and injured at least 29 others during the horror in 2018 

A bus driver was on a ‘come down’ from cocaine when he crashed and paralysed a British tourist in Malta, the victim’s lawyers said today as they launched High Court action.

History teacher Rob Butt, 48, from Glastonbury, suffered life-changing injuries when the open-top vehicle he was riding on crashed into low-lying tree branches in 2018 during a family holiday to Malta.

Rob’s wife Kathy, and their three children, of Glastonbury, were also injured as a result of the crash which left his tetraplegic and needing around the clock care.

Mr Butt’s lawyers say that breaches of duty of care led to the incident, including the driver’s failure to keep a proper lookout, driving too fast and driving too close to the edge of the road. 

Rob's wife Kathy, and their three children, of Glastonbury, were also injured as a result of the crash which left his tetraplegic and needing around the clock care

Rob’s wife Kathy, and their three children, of Glastonbury, were also injured as a result of the crash which left his tetraplegic and needing around the clock care

His lawyers initiated legal proceedings in London’s High Court against the bus driver, City Sightseeing Malta Ltd, and its insurers.

His lawyers say it has since been established, through a Magisterial Inquiry in Malta, that the bus driver had used cocaine prior to the crash.

They say the inquiry has found he may have been experiencing comedown effects at the time of the collision.

Lawyers at Irwin Mitchell report it was the bus driver’s first day working with City Sightseeing since the previous year, and he had not been provided with any training in the interim.

They argue that led to the incident, including the driver’s failure to keep a proper lookout, driving too fast and driving too close to the edge of the road.

A hearing has now taken place at the High Court in London, which has listed the matter for trial in 2023.

It will determine how much insurance cover is available to pay the damages of all of those who sustained injuries as a result of the collision

Jennifer Lund, of Irwin Mitchell, said: ‘It has been more than four years since the lives of Rob and his family were completely turned upside down.

‘They’re still understandably struggling to come to terms with Rob’s injuries, what they’ve all been through and what the future holds.

‘The crash has had a huge impact on them, particularly Rob, who is now dependent on a wheelchair and relies heavily upon carers to look after him.

‘Rob’s 75-year-old mum moved house and runs a lot of the day-to-day organisation as, with carers changing regularly and Kathy having to work long hours to support the family, continuity is needed.

His lawyers say it has since been established, through a Magisterial Inquiry in Malta, that the bus driver had used cocaine prior to the crash

His lawyers say it has since been established, through a Magisterial Inquiry in Malta, that the bus driver had used cocaine prior to the crash

‘She also co-parents, effectively having come out of retirement to take over Rob’s role as parent.

‘The children, the youngest of which was nine at the time of the accident, have had to deal with a huge amount of trauma.

‘The family, and everyone else affected by this devastating accident, has spent the last few years waiting for clarity about what happened on that fateful day and whether the defendants have enough funds to pay damages – we’re pleased that they’re now one step closer to obtaining these answers.

‘Nothing will change what the victims have been through, but we will continue supporting Rob and his family throughout this process so he can access the specialist support and therapies he requires to live as independently as possible.’

Prior to the incident, Rob was a teacher and Head of the History department at Downside School in Radstock.

He was also qualified to coach a number of sports and was very active with outdoor education including the Combined Cadet Force, Gold and Silver D of E.

He and Kathy, also a teacher, were looking forward to starting new teaching jobs abroad before the accident.

Kathy said: ‘Just over four years ago, our world turned upside down and since then we have kept going, trying to navigate our way through what has been the worst experience of our lives.

‘It’s been particularly difficult to see Rob go from being fit and healthy and an active dad to requiring care 24 hours a day and unable to hug his children or do very much for them.

Prior to the incident, Rob was a teacher and Head of the History department at Downside School in Radstock

Prior to the incident, Rob was a teacher and Head of the History department at Downside School in Radstock

‘He has, however, been incredible, a real inspiration to us and to our local community, and tries to remain positive through everything.

‘We know we’ll face many challenges as a family as a result of Rob’s health issues, which will worsen as time goes on, but we’re all so grateful he’s still here.

‘It’s also been tough not getting the answers from those who were responsible for the crash about what could have been done to prevent it and whether they can even pay our damages so that Rob can have as normal a life as possible, so we’re pleased that progress is now being made on that front.

‘Of course, nothing will change what we’ve been through, but we feel we deserve answers, as do all the families affected. We wouldn’t want others to suffer like as we have.’

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