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Friday 19 September 2014

Owner of bus in which boy (15) was killed spared jail

Declan Brennan

Published 09/07/2013 | 05:00

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Raymond McKeown arriving at court
Michael White, who died when the mini-bus he was travelling in overturned near Clara, Co. Offaly

THE owner of a school bus which crashed six years ago, causing the death of a teenager, has been spared jail.

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Schoolboy Michael White (15) died from "catastrophic injuries" he suffered in the crash.

Bus owner Raymond McKeown (61) had pleaded guilty to a charge of 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.

Sentencing him at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Margaret Heneghan said there was no point imposing a fine on McKeown, as financial information provided to the court showed that his liabilities exceeded his assets.

She imposed a 12-month prison sentence, which she suspended for 12 months.

Judge Heneghan said she was taking into consideration McKeown's otherwise good character, his guilty plea and his expressions of genuine remorse.

She said there was no causation aspect to the offence and that the court's sentence was not a sanction for the untimely death of Michael White.

The court heard that since the crash McKeown had lost his business, Clara Cabs, of River Street, Clara.

He had sold the family home and was now living in rented accommodation and working as a boat repair man for Waterways Ireland.

BURDEN

His defence counsel said the father of two had suffered adversely on a social level in his local community following the crash and that his was a heavy burden on him.

He added that McKeown's only other convictions were in relation to the same crash. He pleaded guilty and was fined by the district court for having no tax, no insurance and no Public Service Vehicle licence for the school bus in April 2006.

The bus was carrying Michael and 34 other pupils to Killina Presentation Secondary School on the morning of April 4, 2006, when the rear-drive axle of the 1989 Mercedes bus came off sending the vehicle out of control on a bog road outside Clara.

The bus overturned killing Michael.

The 15-year-old was the only son of well-known Clara publican Michael White and his wife Martina.

Irish Independent

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