Saturday 16 December 2017

Bus involved in fatal accident was 'clocked'

Declan Brennan

A SCHOOL bus that was involved in a fatal accident in Offaly in 2006 was "clocked" five years earlier, a court has heard.

Schoolboy Michael White (15) died on April 4, 2006, when the bus went out of control and flipped over on a bog road just outside Clara, Co Offaly. The back axle had come off the bus.

David O'Reilly, on behalf of O'Reilly Commercials Ltd of Ballinalach, Mullingar, Co Westmeath, has pleaded not guilty to four charges relating to failing to note or verify defects when the firm tested the bus between August 5 and 6, 2005.

The defects include a missing bolt in the right rear suspension spring of the bus, and a fracture in the chassis.

On the ninth day of the trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, Garda Adrian Tucker told Caroline Biggs SC, prosecuting, that he believed the mileage on the bus tachograph was altered.

He said his examination of the tachograph chart showed that the mileage of the 1989 Mercedes bus in September 2001 was 96,619km. He said that at the time of the crash the mileage was 48,251km.

John Sheehan, an inspector with the Health and Safety Authority, told Ms Biggs that he believed the clock was "reconditioned" in and around 2002. He said: "It was clocked".

Inspector Sheehan told Diarmaid McGuinness SC, defending, that he wrote to the Department of Transport in 2008 seeking all records for the bus. He said it was unable to provide any test results but provided a table of test dates.

Counsel put it to him that this stated that the vehicle was tested on September 1, 2005. The prosecution allege that Mr O'Reilly tested the bus first on August 6 and retested it on September 1.

Mr McGuinness has said that his client contends he provided the then owner with a snag list of necessary repairs in August and only carried out the roadworthiness test on September 1.

The bus was examined by a mechanic between those dates and later sold on to a Clara bus hire firm. The trial, before Judge Margaret Heneghan and a jury of 10 men and two women, will continue tomorrow.

Irish Independent

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