TWO drunken teenagers wrote off a £75,000 bus when they crashed it after a dangerous nine mile joyride through the Cotswolds, a court heard.

Harry Atley, 19, and Thomas Bloomfield, 18, could be heard on the single decker's CCTV footage shrieking and swearing in hysterical excitement as they took turns to drive it from Tetbury, Glos, to Malmesbury, Wilts.

After 'fourteen minutes of madness' they lost control of the vehicle, owned by Pulham and Sons Coaches Ltd of Bourton on the Water, Glos, and crashed it. They were both thrown into the windscreen, which smashed.

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Harry Attley

Judge Michael Cullum told them: "For 14 minutes and for nine miles the two of you drove a bus that you were not legally entitled to drive, even had you been sober.

"You had clearly both been drinking a huge amount of alcohol. You took it in turns to drive the bus, appearing to swap drivers without the bus stopping.

"You left a trail of near misses. You drove into verges, you went over roundabouts. You were not in control of that bus. The fourteen minutes then ends with a serious crash.

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"You completely wrecked the bus - a vehicle worth £75,000 and engaged in daily usage by a local company employing 110 people with a fleet of eighty vehicles.

"The photos I have seen of the damage to the bus show the two of you were lucky to survive the crash. Anyone in a car and going the other way and colliding with that bus would have been lucky to survive."

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Thomas Bloomfield

The 41 seater bus was written off and the company says the teenagers' actions have cost them £100,000 because of a big increase in premiums after their insurance claim.

At Gloucester crown court on Friday the shamefaced pair, who sat heads bowed and sometimes in tears in the dock, were allowed to walk free with suspended detention sentences.

"Your families will be disgusted, I suspect, by the two hooded yobs they saw on that bus shouting and swearing and worrying about the wine bottle falling over in the vehicle," the judge said.

"This was appalling behaviour. I am deeply troubled by your actions and the severity of your offences. Anyone watching the CCTV video of you on that bus and being asked what the sentence should be would ordinarily say the sentences have to be immediate."

However, he said, he would stop short at sending them straight into custody and sentenced each to eight months detention suspended for a year. They were also ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work each and they will be on home curfew with electronic tags from 8pm-5am every night for six months.

The judge ordered them each to pay £10,000 compensation to Pulham's at £400 a month. They were also disqualified from driving for two years each.

Bloomfield, of Conygar Road, Tetbury, and Atley, of Magdalen road, Tetbury, both pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicle taking and dangerous driving on Nov 18 last year.

Prosecutor Nick Fridd played the court the CCTV footage of the short journey.

For the first few minutes the defendants could be heard trying to work out how to start the bus, then when they got the engine going they could be heard laughing and jeering

One of them shouted 'We just hi-jacked a bus' as it set off.

Later one shrieked delightedly "We've just stole a bus - we've f***ing stolen a bus!"

Then the crash and a steaming noise could be heard as the video screen was filled with an image of the shattered front window.