A SCHOOLGIRL was killed when she ran out in front of a bus, giving the driver no chance to stop.

Niketa Spruce, 13, died from multiple injuries after she was struck by an Arriva single deck bus on Spur Road, Halton Lodge, last December.

Friends of Niketa, of Maple Avenue, Run-corn, claimed she had been the victim of bullies at the Grange Comprehensive.

They organised a petition calling for the school to clampdown on bullying and said Niketa had begged to leave school early on December 19 - the day of her death - to avoid her tormentors.

However, yesterday an inquest heard that Niketa was not being chased when she dashed in front of the X5 route bus, driven by Peter Beasley.

Mr Beasley said: 'I saw Niketa by the side of the road and she ran in front of the bus. I jammed on my brakes and went into a skid. I sounded the horn to warn her but there was nothing I could do.'

Niketa was just a few feet away from the pedestrian bridge over the Spur Road when she ran out from a gap in the hedge by the side of the road.

In the weeks following the accident, posters were glued to lampposts and bus shelters on Latham Avenue and Boston Avenue, calling for school bullies to be punished.

Pupils have gone door-to-door asking residents living near the school to support their campaign.

But PC Ian Dodd told the inquest: 'There were suggestions from Niketa's friends and fellow pupils that she could have been chased leading up to the accident.

'However, there was nobody in the vicinity at the time of the collision. The claims she was being chased were in -vestigated and found to be untrue.'

Barry Carney, deputy head at The Grange Comprehensive, said: 'Niketa had a cheerful disposition and an infectious smile.

'She was a loyal friend and would always stick up for others.

'Niketa will always be remembered with fondness at The Grange.'

Cheshire coroner Nicholas Rheinberg recorded a verdict of misadventure.