THIS is the horrific moment a drunken bus passenger grabbed the steering wheel of a double-decker express coach on the M40, causing it to crash.

Thomas Roby was captured on CCTV wrestling the driver for control of the Oxford Tube coach as it swerved across the carriageway at 60mph.

The screams of terrified passengers filled the coach as it careered up an embankment before tipping over.

Roby was seen on the CCTV footage played to the judge, falling over as the bus toppled.

Yesterday Roby, 21, from Cavell Road, East Oxford, was jailed for 12 months for what he had described as a “moment of madness”.

Merril Hughes, prosecuting, said Roby had boarded the London-bound Oxford Tube at 1.10am on August 30 last year.

The court was told that despite not having the correct fare, kindly bus driver Trevor License allowed him to board for just £1.80 because Roby was so drunk.

Mrs Hughes said: “The coach was well into its journey down the M40 between junctions three and two on the outskirts of Beaconsfield when he, Mr Roby, came down the stairs and approached Mr License.

“He grabbed hold of the steering wheel and then pulled it towards him, causing a struggle.

“Mr License struggled to get the steering wheel back but was unable to gain control.

“He applied the brakes and did manage to slow the impact speed considerably, but the coach hit the embankment and it overturned. The majority of the coach ended up on the hard shoulder and in lane one of the motorway, which was, of course, still a live carriageway.”

Mr License and a number of the 12 passengers sobbed as CCTV footage taken from the driver’s cab was played to the court.

Terrified screams were heard as the driver struggled to regain control of the vehicle.

As it crashed on to its side, screams of “Oh my God” were recorded coming from the injured passengers trapped in the vehicle.

Mrs Hughes said: “There were 12 passengers aboard the coach, including Mr Roby, and very fortunately the injuries received were not major.”

She added that Roby’s fellow passengers recalled him running off after the crash.

Judge Christopher Tyrer heard that Roby was found by police hiding in the back garden of a house in nearby Beaconsfield.

When interviewed , Roby admitted trying to grab the steering wheel, but gave no explanation for his actions.

Mr License suffered damage to his right shoulder as a result of the crash, which he is still recovering from.

Other passengers told the court of their extreme anxiety and recurring nightmares about the crash, which caused £52,000 pounds of damage to the coach.

Roby had earlier admitted charges of interfering with a motor vehicle and endangering the lives of road users.

Tanya Murshed, defending at Aylesbury Crown Court, which was sitting at High Wycombe, said: “Mr Roby is deeply remorseful and ashamed about that day.

“He wishes to apologise to all the passengers and the driver.”

Sentencing Roby, Judge Tyrer said: “No sentence can possibly put the clock back, but what I have to do is make sure that anyone else mad enough to consider a repetition of what you have done is firmly discouraged.”