Driver who left behind five-year-old backed by child's dad
THE driver who left a five-year-old girl in his school bus for hours is riding a wave of public support since he was fired - and now even the girl's father is defending him.
Earlier this week Ross Belsham, a 79-year-old grandfather from South Brisbane, revealed he had been fired for leaving Alyssa New on his Logan Coaches bus for five hours.
Alyssa fell asleep on the bus that was driving her home from Jimboomba State School on January 22 and was found by local police hours later, banging on the windows.
Alyssa's father Adam has since come out in defence of Mr Belsham, who said the bus driver should still have his job.
"All the kids speak very highly of Ross. He takes very good care of the kids, always has taken very good care of the kids," Mr New told 9 NEWS.
"I believe he had some wrongs in what he did, but to lose his job and be publicly shamed in the way that he has, is not acceptable at all. He should still have his job, he should still be carrying the kids to and from school."
"As Alyssa's father I don't believe he should've been sacked. If they checked the bus, Alyssa would've been found and it wouldn't have been as big a deal as what it is today," he said.
Mr Belsham, who had been driving buses for 50 years, said he was "scapegoated" by Logan Coaches and that there were plenty of other people who had a hand in Alyssa going missing.
The 79-year-old driver said there had been no bus monitor on duty at the school, Alyssa's mother wasn't waiting for her at the bus stop and there were office staff sitting metres away from the locked bus while the girl was inside.
Logan Coaches gave Mr Belsham a letter of termination on Tuesday, writing that after an "exhaustive" investigation, he was fired from his beloved job.
But despite the ordeal for everyone involved, things seem to be looking up for the bus driver.
A number of online petitions calling for Mr Belsham to be either reinstated or hired by someone else were created this week, amassing thousands of signatures.
And in an interview with interview with Today this morning, Mr Belsham said he received some good news and was offered a job with Brisbane 360, a tourist bus hire company in Queensland.
"We're a lot happier today, things are looking good ... I'll be getting some paperwork either today or Monday," he told the morning show.
Mr Belsham also thanked Alyssa's dad for his support, who previously told the publication his daughter was "doing well".
"She's doing well, she's happy. If you talk about buses she gets a bit standoff-ish.
"It has most definitely had quite an impact on her, which is understandable. But in general she's pretty good," he said.