Saturday 3 December 2016

Family to sue hotel over alcohol poisoning after barmen cleared

Barry Duggan

Published 13/05/2011 | 05:00

Gary Wright, left, and Aidan Dalton who were cleared of Graham Parish's manslaughter
Gary Wright, left, and Aidan Dalton who were cleared of Graham Parish's manslaughter

THE family of a man who died from acute alcohol poisoning are to take a civil case against the hotel he died in.

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Two barmen employed at the hotel were found not guilty of Graham Parish's manslaughter yesterday.

In a landmark case, a judge ruled that Gary Wright (34) and Aidan Dalton (28) were not culpable for the death of Mr Parish (26) at Hayes Hotel, Thurles, Co Tipperary, three years ago.

Judge Tom Teehan directed the jury to find the two men not guilty as he determined that the victim had decided himself to drink in the hours leading up to his death.

However, Mr Parish's parents, David and Julie, are taking a civil case in the High Court against the Mulcahy Hotel group trading as Hayes Hotel Limited.

Papers were lodged in the court last March by the family's solicitor, while the Mulcahy group lodged papers last month.

It is expected that the case -- which is being contested by the hotel company -- could take anything between a year and two years to complete.

At Nenagh Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Teehan yesterday stopped the country's first 'liquor liability' trial and acquitted Mr Wright and Mr Dalton of the unlawful killing of Graham Parish at Hayes Hotel, Thurles on July 1, 2008.

It was the sixth day of the trial of the bar staff, and the judge's ruling was greeted with an outpouring of relief from the two men and supporters.

Graham Parish's parents and his sister, Jess, sat quietly as the case ended.

At 10.30am yesterday, the judge gave his verdict on a defence application to find the accused men not guilty.

The judge told the jury that the accused had a duty of care to Mr Parish, had breached that duty of care, and their negligence was gross.

However it was the fourth point -- that the negligence of the barmen had caused the victim's death -- which the judge ruled had not been proven.

Referring to Mr Parish downing the eight-shot drink, he said the courts placed a high importance on individual responsibility.

"A decision was taken by Mr Parish, even after Mr Dalton and Mr Wright came to the conclusion that the drink should be served," Judge Teehan said.

"He then took the decision to consume that drink and that was a supervening event to break the chain of causation."

The judge said for that reason if there was to be a conviction by a jury, it could not be regarded as safe.

The jury were told that Judge Teehan was acceding to the application by the defence and there was no need for them to try the case.

As the verdict was reached, Mr Dalton held his head while Mr Wright sighed deeply.

Outside the court, solicitor for the barmen, JJ Fitzgerald, spoke on their behalf and expressed their sympathies to Mr Parish's family.

"This has been a stressful time in both men's lives and they are happy that this has been brought to close,"Mr Fitzgerald said.

Mr Parish's family released a statement saying he was celebrating his birthday and his son's birth in Hayes Hotel that night.

"We hope that this case will highlight the dangers of drink and if it can prevent any more deaths, we feel Graham's death will not have been in vain."

Irish Independent

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