A whole life can change in a single minute. For Jack Aston it took just 48 seconds.
It was in that fraction of a lifetime on February 22, 2016, that Mr Aston drove a Gold Bus and the 14 passengers down Montague Street in south Melbourne, missing several warning signs of the low bridge ahead.
The story of those 48 seconds, the crash that followed, and its repercussions for passengers, the Aston family, the bus company and its employees, have been pored over in fine detail: in court and in the minds of those affected.
Mr Aston made a mistake. He has relived that many times and served 10 months in jail for it. It is a lapse that will always haunt him and others involved. Tellingly, his first public words on release were, once again, to say sorry to the passengers seriously hurt that day.
However, what has also become clear with the appeal judgement is that Mr Aston's was by no means the only working error at play.
As one barrister pointed out to The Courier, that is how appeals usually work. A legal team draws out the flaws in the original verdict - and they often try to highlight prosecution mistakes.
What is more unusual in this instance is the degree to which the Court of Appeal judges criticised the way the first trial was conducted in October last year. Their reasoning, published this week in the summary of the case, will make uncomfortable reading for many involved.
Perhaps most highlighted was the role of the prosecutor Robert Barry, but the defence counsel and trial judge Bill Stuart did not escape this withering appraisal.
The judgement reads: "Remarkably, at the close of the evidence and before closing addresses in the present case, neither the prosecutor nor defence counsel informed the trial judge that dangerous driving causing serious injury was an alternative verdict.
"Indeed, there is no indication that his Honour knew of the statutory alternative."
On the day of the appeal, Justice Phillip Priest said: "This is basic trial practice. I'd expect a prosecutor to know, defence to know and, with all respect, the judge should have known."
Mr Aston's original conviction of six counts of negligent driving causing serious injury were overturned to become the much lesser charge of dangerous driving causing serious injury.
The sentence was changed to 305 days' imprisonment - precisely the amount of time already served - and a two-year community corrections order. One legal professional with knowledge of the case said it would be interesting to know if Mr Aston would have had a jail term if he had been correctly convicted in the original trial. "But we will never find out."
So Mr Aston was held accountable - unjustly, as it turned out - for his mistakes. Who, then, holds those responsible for allowing what appeal judges called "a miscarriage of justice" to unfold?
That is much less clear.
The Courier has contacted the Office of Public Prosecutions, who would not give any comment.
The role of Mr Aston's defence counsel at the original trial, Richard Edney, was also put under the spotlight. The suggestion, outlined in the appeal judgement, is that the alternative verdict was not mentioned due to an "all or nothing" approach.
The appellate system is designed to correct errors of this nature. This case demonstrates how the system can work to identify and correct matters where required.Government spokesperson on behalf of the Attorney General
The court of appeal judgement reads: "The submission may be inconsistent with the tenor of the defence case. Nonetheless fairness to the accused may require that the jury be directed of the availability of the alternative verdict. In such a case the failure to do so would be a miscarriage of justice."
Mr Edney, however, declined to elaborate on the defence tactics used.
The Courier also approached the office of the Attorney General. A government spokesperson responded: "Clearly, this event has had a profound impact on the lives of all involved."
"The appellate system is designed to correct errors of this nature. This case demonstrates how the system can work to identify and correct matters where required.
"It's the role of our appeals system to identify and remedy any errors that might have taken place at the original trial."
The question remains however: are the same standards of individual accountability that applied to Mr Aston in his working life as a bus driver also in evidence for those in the legal profession?
It is hard to see how, publicly at least.
Meanwhile, the Astons - understandably - have had enough of courts. They do not plan to take legal action to find out how things went so wrong. They are just happy to get their Jack home.
Arguably Mr Aston's error had a more obvious effect on people's lives. Broken bones and a mangled bus are hard to hide.
But there is no doubt that legal mistakes can also have a life-changing impact. You only need to ask the Aston family.
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TIMELINE: 1,330 days of heartache and pain
February 22, 2016: The day of the crash
It began as just another day at work for Jack Aston, a hot late summer's day, as he ferried 14 passengers between the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre and a hotel on the St Kilda Road. He had begun earlier in the day, taking V/Line passengers from Ballarat to Melbourne.
The route, which he was unfamiliar with, took the bus via the Montague Street Bridge, which at 3m high is the lowest in the metropolitan network and a notorious accident blackspot. At 10.22am, the 3.6-metre high Gold Bus he was driving collided with the bridge while travelling at 56 km per hour. The impact pushed the front and roof of the bus back to the fifth row of seats.
Eleven passengers were taken to hospital, six of them with serious injuries including spinal and skull fractures, lacerations and abrasions.
One image shows a bloodied Mr Aston slumped on the ground just after the crash.
October 19, 2016: Facing court
Mr Aston faced court at the Melbourne Magistrates Court charged with negligent driving and causing serious injury.
October 22, 2018: Trial and guilty verdict
After a two-week trial at the County Court in Melbourne, Jack Aston was found guilty of six charges of negligently causing serious injury. Judge Bill Stuart granted him bail ahead of sentencing.
December 17, 2018: Sentenced to more than five years
Jack Aston was sentenced to five years and three months in jail, with a non-parole period of two-and-a- half years.
While Judge Stuart accepted that Mr Aston was a man of excellent character who had contributed in all sorts of way to the community and was suffering genuine remorse, he said it was "astonishing" Mr Aston had not seen the low clearance of the bridge.
Despite Mr Aston's glowing character references from the then Gold Bus company director Donald McKenzie, as well as his family and friends, he received a punitive jail term that shocked his supporters. Judge Bill Stuart said that deterrence was the "principal sentencing factor". Mr Aston's licence was also suspended for three years.
At the sentencing, his family and loved ones wept and cried out to him: "love you dad", "we're always here for you Jack" and "you're a good man".
You can read the full sentencing remarks from the Judge Bill Stuart here.
December 19, 2018: Family reveals shock at sentence
The family spoke of their shock at the long sentence handed down to Mr Aston. "It has changed him as a person," his daughter Meg told The Courier. Ms Aston also said that her father did not believe them initially when he was told nobody had died. Mr Aston did not speak for two days after the crash, she said.
Wendy Aston also said that the family planned to appeal the sentencing.
December 21, 2018:'Bring back our Jack' campaign starts
The #freejack campaign begins to emerge as the family rallies around to build awareness of the Mr Aston's situation. Meg Aston organises a rally in support of her father - and to campaign for changes to the accident blackspot - under the Montague Street Bridge itself.
The family says they will go and visit Mr Aston for his birthday and on Christmas Day.
January 2019: Appeal lodged
The family lodged the appeal against Mr Aston's jail term, after requesting an extension to the deadline of 28 days as they waited for the court to provide documents.
February 2019: Community writes letters to Jack Aston in jail
Support and sympathy for the campaign builds among the local community, with people in writing to Mr Aston in jail as a show of support.
"Hope to see you home soon again where you belong mate," one letter reads.
April 2019: Attorney General pressured
To keep the pressure on, Mr Aston's family asked supporters to write to the Victoria Attorney General in protest against the sentence handed down to Mr Aston.
From Mr Aston tells of how thankful he is for the community support in the six months since his jailing. In a letter of thanks to Gold Bus, he says: "My faith in good people and the hope of good things to come will keep me strong."
July 30: Date set for appeal
The date for Mr Aston's appeal is set for October 7. "We are all feeling totally relieved. I spoke to Jack today and he feels the same," Wendy Aston said.
October 7: Convictions overturned
There were six grounds for the appeal, but ultimately only one was required. The three appeal judges said prosecutors in the original trial had made a mistake by not raising the possibility of a less serious alternative charge of dangerous driving. Mr Aston was convicted instead of six counts of dangerous driving causing serious injury.
The maximum penalty is double that of the less serious charge, so he will be re-sentenced.
One of the appeal judges, Justice Phillip Priest, was sharply critical of the oversight at the original trial. "This is basic trial practice," he said. "I'd expect a prosecutor to know, defence to know and, with all respect, the judge should have known."
October 14: Re-sentencing
Jack Aston is re-sentenced. In emotional scenes, the judges allow him to walk free from jail.
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