Bus driver accused of causing 10 deaths ‘devastated’

Mark Russell |

Brett Button was granted bail in June after concerns over his mental health and well-being.
Brett Button was granted bail in June after concerns over his mental health and well-being.

Brett Button, the bus driver accused of causing one of Australia’s deadliest crashes, says he is devastated by what happened.

Button says there is not a day or night he doesn’t think about the families of those killed or injured in last year’s crash in the NSW Hunter Valley.

“There isn’t an hour that goes by where I’m not thinking of the families affected by my actions,” he said in a statement read out by his barrister Chris O’Brien outside Newcastle Local Court on Wednesday.

“I truly feel for anyone involved including the emergency services.

“I am devastated by what has occurred, and for that I am truly and deeply sorry.”

Bus driver Brett Button (centre) outside Newcastle Court House
Button said he was “truly sorry” in a statement read by his barrister. (Mark Russell/AAP PHOTOS)

Button, 59, had been ordered to attend court for the first time since he appeared last June in Cessnock Local Court charged over the deaths of 10 people and injuring 25 others.

He appeared briefly before Magistrate Ian Cheetham on Wednesday when Mr O’Brien said an initial case conference had been held with NSW Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions lawyers.

Mr O’Brien said discussions were continuing.

Mr Cheetham agreed to adjourn the case to April 3 and continued Button’s bail.

Button had previously been excused from attending court since being charged because he was legally represented.

He was granted bail in June after concerns over his mental health and well-being if he remained in custody.

Button is now facing a total of 89 charges after 10 counts of manslaughter and 16 of causing bodily harm by “wanton or furious driving” were added to his previous charges when the case was mentioned in court in January.

Bus crash scene (file image)
Button allegedly lost control of a bus taking 35 wedding guests from the Wandin Valley Estate. (Darren Pateman/AAP PHOTOS)

He was arrested after allegedly losing control of a bus taking 35 wedding guests from the Wandin Valley Estate to Singleton about 11.30pm on June 11.

The bus slammed into a guard rail and rolled onto its side.

Button has been accused of taking the roundabout on Wine Country Drive at Greta too fast, allegedly telling some passengers to “fasten your belts” before the fatal crash in thick fog.

Many on board were members of the Singleton Roosters Australian Rules Football club.

Button was originally charged with 10 counts each of dangerous driving and negligent driving causing death, nine each of dangerous driving and negligent driving causing grievous bodily harm, and 25 counts of causing bodily harm by misconduct when driving the 57-seat Volvo bus and causing it to roll onto its rear side.

He is yet to enter pleas to the charges.

Chris Minns at a memorial service for the victims (file image)
The Hunter Valley Bus Tragedy Fund to help those affected by the crash raised close to $1.5 million. (Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS)

The 10 people who died in the crash were Nadene McBride and her daughter, Kyah, 22, of Singleton; Kane Symons, 21, from Tasmania; Andrew Scott, 35, and his wife Lynan, 33, of Singleton; Zach Bray, 29, from Byron Bay; Angus Craig, 28, from Queensland; Darcy Bulman, 30, from Melbourne; and Tori Cowburn, 29 and Rebecca Mullen, both of Singleton.

A Hunter Valley Bus Tragedy Fund, administered by Rotary, to help those affected by the crash has since raised close to $1.5 million.

Those on board had earlier attended the wedding of Mitchell Gaffney and Madeleine Edsell.

The 25 people injured on the bus cannot be named for legal reasons.

AAP