A school bus driver charged with assaulting a 12-year-old passenger has been inundated with support after news that the case was thrown out of court.
Jim McCorkindale, 70, who was worried about his ability to cover his legal costs, said yesterday the response he had had since publicity about his case was "bloody unreal. It was just about embarrassing, actually".
He had received calls from all over the country and "they are all backing me to the hilt. I'm not such a bad old bugger after all, apparently."
Police have defended their decision to charge Mr McCorkindale. They say they made the decision based on the evidence available at the time, but it is understood that evidence changed when the boy later altered his story and the case was thrown out.
Mr McCorkindale said he only put his hand on the boy's arm to get his attention as he was pulling the girl's hair during the incident on his bus last July.
When the boy did not respond to being told to stop, "I threatened to hit him in the ribs, and he flinched and let the kid's hair go to protect his ribs", he said.
Police were called by children on the bus.
Dismissing the charge last week, Judge Kevin Phillips told the boy he should be ashamed of himself and had him escorted to the court cells as a warning.
The boy apologised for his actions, and the boy's father also criticised his son for the situation facing Mr McCorkindale.
Inspector Olaf Jensen said: "Police made the decision to prosecute based on a review of all of the evidence put before them, including statements from witnesses, the alleged offender and the victim."
Based on the information available to them, police did not deem it appropriate to offer diversion, under which a person can avoid a conviction, Mr Jensen said.
"The matter was put before the court and we are not able to comment further on the process or outcome."
The Herald has received dozens of messages from people upset at the charge laid against Mr McCorkindale, and wanting to contribute money towards his legal costs.By Jarrod Booker Email Jarrod