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Monday 25 September 2017

Bus-firm owner admits neglect over fatal crash

Niamh O'Donoghue and Declan Brennan

The bus company owner who was on trial for failing to maintain a school coach that was later involved in a fatal crash has changed his plea to guilty.

Michael White (15) died as a result of "catastrophic injuries" suffered in the crash which happened on a bog road just outside Clara, Co Offaly, on April 4, 2006, when the back axle came away and the bus flipped over.

A separate charge that alleged the owner's failure had caused Michael's death has been dropped by the DPP.

Clara Cabs' owners Raymond and Ruairi McKeown, both of River Street, Clara, had denied six counts of failing to maintain the 1989 Mercedes bus, two of which said this failure led to the death of the school boy on April 4, 2006.

Yesterday, Raymond McKeon admitted at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to failing to maintain the bus in a condition that was safe and without risk to the health and welfare of persons other than his employees.

He had denied failing to maintain the bus in a safe condition, as a consequence of which Michael White suffered personal injuries and died on April 4, 2006; and failing to maintain the bus in a condition that was safe and without risk to the health and welfare of employees. Both charges were withdrawn.

Shock

Judge Margaret Heneghan told the jury that Raymond McKeown had pleaded guilty to one of the counts and a nolle prosequi had been entered in relation to the remaining five.

His case will be mentioned on April 8 next to set a sentencing date.

The judge said Ruairi McKeown had been discharged from the indictment and the trial continues in relation to O'Reilly Commercials Limited and the four remaining counts this morning.

David O'Reilly, acting on behalf of O'Reilly Commercials Ltd of Ballinalack, Mullingar, Co Westmeath, denies four charges relating to failing to note or verify defects when they tested the bus between August 5 and 6, 2005.

In detail, the four charges against O'Reilly Commericals Ltd are failing to note and failing to verify as safe the modified rear suspension in the bus, failing to note the missing bolt in the right rear suspension spring of the bus, and failing to take account of a fracture in the chassis.

The offences come under the 1989 and 2005 Safety Health and Welfare at Work Acts.

The jury has previously heard evidence that days before the crash, the driver of the bus told Raymond McKeown that a child had complained about hearing a noise in the back of the bus.

Raymond McKeown told gardai that he believed the noise was just a shock absorber going over a bump over the road.

He told the driver he would replace the shocks on the bus during the upcoming Easter break, a week after the accident.

Irish Independent

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