A SCHOOL bus driver who stranded his vehicle in floodwater with 23 children on board has been jailed for 12 months by a judge who told him: "The consequences that could have followed simply do not bear thinking about."

Former soldier Graham Jones, 53, told York Crown Court he made a "genuine mistake" when he drove the children, aged between 11 and 18, into floods on a country road in North Yorkshire after passing two road closed signs, leaving the bus stuck in thigh-deep water and passengers having to be rescued by firefighters.

But a jury found him guilty of dangerous driving on Friday after deliberating for about an hour.

Judge Paul Batty QC told Jones that he did not understand why he had not pleaded guilty to the offence given the overwhelming evidence against him.

The judge told him he displayed "vaunted arrogance" in the witness box as he tried to explain to the jury why he took the schoolchildren from the village of Newton-on-Ouse, near York, through one flooded area of Tollerton Lane and then into an even deeper stretch, which the judge described as "an expanse of water as far as the eye could see".

Judge Batty said: "God knows why you drove through and, of course, the inevitable happened."

He said: "God knows what the children were thinking about as this was happening."

Judge Batty told Jones he showed no appreciation of the danger he put the children in and "the potentially devastating consequences that could have occurred because of your dangerous, your reckless act".

He said: "This was an extremely bad case of dangerous driving. The consequences that could have followed simply do not bear thinking about."