A MAN who performed an indecent act while at the wheel of a bus was then able to get a new job driving schoolchildren.
John Hetherington was arrested for performing the sex act while driving the No 700 to Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital.
The 58-year-old then got a new job driving a school bus in Oxford for three weeks before the county council was alerted.
Hetherington was arrested on August 25 before getting the new job. The council only discovered the allegations when tipped off by a member of the public on September 21. As a result, he lost his job.
Last night, the county council said Hetherington had an enhanced Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check dating from 2011 from a previous employer.
But it did not carry out a new check which could have flagged up his arrest. Under an enhanced check the police can disclose “relevant” information along with convictions, warnings and cautions.
The council, which would not say which school bus Hetherington drove, said its policy was to seek a new CRB check every three years.
Hetherington admitted the charges last month and was this month sentenced to attend 120 hours of sex offenders’ treatment.
Marilyn Hawes, founder of campaign group Enough Abuse UK, said: “If I was one of the parents I would be beating a path to the chairman of the council.”
She called for the system to be reformed so arrests and convictions were “flagged” to organisations requesting CRB checks.
At present, the onus is on employers to get CRB checks from the bureau, which requests information from police.
Hetherington admitted three counts of outraging public decency at Oxford Magistrates’ Court on December 17.
He was accused of perfoming a sex act while driving the No 700 from the hospital to Summertown and from Headley Way to Five Mile Drive on August 2.
The third count took place in Oxford the next day.
Hetherington, of Horspath Road, Cowley, also admitted seven counts of intentionally exposing his genitals while at his home on November 13, 15, 16 and December 7.
Council spokesman Sam Henry said: “We received an allegation on September 21 regarding John Hetherington.
“At the time Mr Hetherington was working for Walter’s Coaches as a coach driver.”
Mr Henry confirmed this was a school bus and said: “Following receipt of the allegation, Mr Hetherington’s ID badge was immediately revoked and he has not worked for the county council since.
“When he joined he already had an enhanced CRB check that had been undertaken in 2011 and had come back clear.”
Hetherington told the Oxford Mail he resigned from RH buses, which ran the No 700 but went out of business in October, when he was first accused.
He said he then began work “every day” in September for Forest Hill-based Walter’s Coaches, which is contracted by the county council.
But he said he was “gobsmacked” by the allegations and maintained his innocence.
He said: “Because there were so many people that supposedly had seen me that day, I had no choice but to plead guilty. People are going to get the wrong impression of me.”
Referring to his school bus job, Hetherington said: “I just thought they would know about it.”
Walter’s Coaches declined to comment.
Hetherington was also ordered by Oxford Magistrates’ Court at his January 10 sentencing to register with the police for five years.
Oxford East Labour MP Andrew Smith said: “The county council ought to look again at this policy of checking it every three years to see if a more frequent check would be feasible.
“If someone is convicted of an offence, clearly that needs to be flagged with the employer holding the CRB certificate.”
The county council was unavailable for comment over whether checks should be more frequent. The Home Office said it had no plans to reform the CRB system.