Mother spends 47 hours under arrest after calling bus driver 'an asshole'

Passenger struggled with police after driver requested assistance with the woman who refused to close her baby's pushchair

A court has heard how an argument between a Ukrainian woman and a bus driver, who refused to let her embark before closing a pushchair in which her two-year-old child was asleep, led to her being detained under arrest for 47 hours and charged with assaulting police officers.

Polina Gutshabes, 25, had boarded a bus to St. Paul’s Bay from Sliema on Sunday afternoon. After picking them up, the driver told her to close the pushchair to allow space for more people, as his route was a busy one. When the woman informed him that her son was asleep and the pushchair could not be closed, the driver allegedly ordered her to get off the bus and refused to refund the fares paid.

The woman allegedly then insulted the driver in English.

The driver hopped off the bus and ran to a nearby police station seeking assistance. Two officers duly asked the woman to disembark but she maintained her refusal, requiring the officers - assisted by a female colleague - to forcefully remove the struggling woman from the bus, while her husband and children looked on.

Police inspector Elton Taliana charged Gutshabes with assaulting and resisting the police, threatening them, disobeying their orders and disturbing the public peace. He told magistrate Aaron Bugeja how the “hysterical” woman had also allegedly kicked the female officer in the chest and legs and scratched her.

The validity of her arrest was contested by lawyers Giannella de Marco and Steve Tonna Lowell but it was ruled legal due to the alleged use of violence against police officers.

De Marco argued that there was no reason to remove Gutshabes from the bus in the first place.

 “What a shame that we keep someone arrested for 47 hours because she allegedly called a bus driver an asshole” the lawyer said, pointing out that it had been the driver who had abandoned the bus when he ran off to the police station.

Gutshabes pleaded not guilty and was granted bail against a €500 deposit and a €5,000 personal guarantee.