A COACH driver who swapped seats at 60mph while taking Pompey fans to a match has been spared jail.
Paul Booker was driving supporters to Middlesborough on a 50-seater Vision Travel coach when the incident happened on the A34 near Newbury.
Horrified fans described one driver getting up while still holding the wheel and another taking his place, causing the coach to lurch from left to right.
Vision Travel – Pompey’s official travel partner – acted quickly, sending another driver to meet the coach at the Riverside stadium.
PC Karen Stevenson said: ‘The actions taken by what was a supposedly professional driver were appalling and it was extremely dangerous with a coach full of people on board.’
Booker, from Arragon Court, Waterlooville, admitted once count of dangerous driving at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court.
The 31-year-old was sentenced to six months in jail suspended for two years and told to pay £85 in court costs.
He was also given a curfew ordering him not to leave home between 8pm and 7am for three months on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Booker was banned from driving for two-and-a-half years.
Speaking after the incident happened on August 6, passenger Paul Smith, of Brightside, Waterlooville, said: ‘I was listening to my iPod just before 8am when we suddenly violently lurched across the lanes.
‘Stuff was falling from the overhead racks and then we lurched back again.
‘I just thought “what the hell is going on?”
‘Then remarkably, the guy who had been driving the coach was coming down the aisle to use the toilet at the back of the coach.
‘Reality quickly sunk in.
‘They’d switched coach drivers whilst they were doing 60 mph along the motorway.’
Driver Peter Williams, 59, of Gorley Court, Havant, denies a charge of dangerous driving relating to the same incident.
He is due to stand trial at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court on January 24.
Vision Travel did not make a comment. However the firm confirmed both drivers have been dismissed.