Bus driver stunned at attacker's sentence
Man who left driver with broken rib, nose received no jail time
An OCTranspo bus driver pulled from his bus and violently beaten six months ago is stunned his attacker has received a suspended sentence.
Veteran driver John Karagianis is still recovering after the April 22 attack on Bank Street. He suffered a broken nose and rib after being dragged onto the street by a passenger.
Paul Ness, 38, pleaded guilty to the attack and, on Friday, was given a 12-month suspended sentence plus 12 months probation, meaning he won't spend any time behind bars.
"I was sick to my stomach when I heard the sentence," Karagianis said in a statement. "This was the guy's second assault, I thought he would go to jail for at least a month."
It was afternoon rush hour on April 22 and driver, Karagianis, was behind the wheel of OC Transpo bus No. 1 on Bank Street when he said a passenger became loud and obnoxious. Suddenly the man began throwing punches, he then dragged Karagianis off the bus and onto the street, where the the beating continued.
'He should be in jail right now,' says union boss
The head of the bus driver's union is furious about the message the recent sentence sends to the community.
"This was the gentleman's second conviction for aggravated assault," said Craig Watson, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union. "You can't go and beat up people who are trying to do their job, he should be in jail right now."
Ness had prior convictions for assault causing bodily harm, obstructing a peace officer and mischief.
There have been 12 serious assaults on drivers in the past year, according to the ATU.
"It's a terrible thing to have to come to work every day and face that," said Watson.
The union is putting efforts into creating legal minimum sentence standards for assaults on bus drivers.