Council bosses have offered reassurances to concerned parents after a school bus driver has been jailed for grooming and raping a teenage girl.
Derby Crown Court heard on Friday, March 9, how Daniel Redfern, 38, of Church Walk, Chesterfield, drove to secluded spots and a lay-by in Derbyshire where he sexually assaulted the teenager for over a year.
Redfern also engaged in sex with a second school girl, who was aged 15 at the time and is now an adult, and this was deemed consensual and took place in his car and home, the court heard.
A Derbyshire County Council spokesman said: “We note the sentence handed down in this case for the appalling crimes committed against two young and vulnerable victims and that their courage has ensured that this case could be brought to court.
“The safety of children is one of the council’s highest priorities. Therefore, all drivers of school bus services in Derbyshire must undergo an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check before being permitted to drive school buses.
“It is the responsibility of the transport operators to organise DBS checks for their employees to ensure they are valid, current and updated prior to their stated expiry date.”
The court heard that on one occasion Redfern drove the rape victim to a quiet road in March, 2016, at around 8pm, according to the court, parked up and raped her on the bus.
Redfern was found guilty after a trial of one count of rape and four of sexual activity with a child and he was jailed for 16 years.
Judge Robert Egbuna told him: “You preyed on these young girls with their vulnerabilities. When the first one withdrew from your clutches you moved on to the second one.”
The court heard Redfern worked for a Sheffield-based travel company contracted to take children to and from a school in Derbyshire and he met the rape victim when she was 14-years-old and she is now in her late teens.
In 2016, the rape complainant triggered an investigation after she complained to a learning mentor at her school how Redfern had been forcing her “to do stuff with him” for more than a year.
The girl, who was aged under 16 at the time of the rape, stated: “This incident has affected me emotionally and has led me to being not able to sleep sometimes because it has been on my mind.
“It has affected my eating and led me to have increased anxiety.”
And the second victim stated: “I did not know what was right or wrong when I was 15.”
Jess Strange, mitigating for Redfern, said the defendant maintains the allegations against him are lies and he denies them.
Judge Egbuna also placed Redfern under a Sexual Harm Prevention Order.
Detective Constable Maria Neads commended the bravery of the victims and those who supported them.
The council added that it continually reminds bus companies of the requirement to ensure all school bus route drivers have valid DBS authorisations. It stressed regular safety inspections of external transport operators including checks of DBS authorisations are also carried out by the authority.