A COACH driver who was spotted chatting on a mobile phone as a young child perched precariously on his dashboard was banned from driving for six months - and immediately launched an appeal against the sentence.
Jack Webb was also fined £250 and ordered to pay £70 costs, but magistrates agreed to suspend the ban after the 53-year-old's solicitor lodged a notice of appeal with the court.
Webb, of Egerton Street, Wrexham, pleaded guilty to careless driving in October after officers in an unmarked police car filmed him at the wheel, talking on a mobile phone with one hand and closing a window with the other.
Passing sentence, chairman of the Shrewsbury magistrates, Tony Hignett, said Webb's driving on the A5 near Shrewsbury on February 15 this year had involved a high degree of carelessness.
The offence had posed serious risks to other road users and to a 10-year-old girl, who was filmed lying and standing on the dashboard of the Volvo coach, the magistrate added.
'You did not have full control of the vehicle whilst using the hand-held phone, which you must have realised was a serious offence,' Mr Hignett added.
Earlier, magistrates were shown the brief police recording, which clearly showed the youngster relaxing on the dashboard and Webb using the mobile moments before he overtook the patrol car.
Webb, who also runs a pub in Wrexham, told police at the roadside that he had leaned over to close the window because he could not hear his phone.
Owain Williams, defending, claimed his client should escape a ban from the roads because of the 'exceptional hardship' that it would cause to his finances and family life.
The call, made shortly after 3pm, was initially answered by the wife of another coach driver, who was travelling with him to Birmingham.
Mr Williams said: 'He accepts that due to an error of judgment on his part in answering a telephone call from his employer, he breached the law.
'In answering the telephone call, he continued to comply with the Highway Code in every way - he adhered to the speed limit, he didn't undertake, he didn't 'cut up' other road users and he didn't brake heavily. He didn't want to take the phone call, but felt obliged to do so by a feeling of duty.'
Webb has been a coach driver for 25 years and had been 'horrified' that the girl had climbed on to the dashboard, the lawyer said.
Acting Sergeant Steve Walker, speaking outside the court complex, said the case highlighted the dangers of motorists using hand-held mobile phones.
The officer, of West Mercia Police, said: 'I hope this sends the right message through to drivers who continue to use mobile phones while driving.'