Monday 11 December 2017

Airport security staff find bags stuffed with gold, chicken fillets and engine parts, court told

Deirdre Moore from Donabate leaves the High Court following a compensation case against Dublin Airport. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Deirdre Moore from Donabate leaves the High Court following a compensation case against Dublin Airport. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

A WOMAN security guard at Dublin Airport allegedly suffered a lower back injury trying to move a carry-on bag containing engine parts through the X-ray conveyor belt, the High Court heard.

Deirdre Moore (39), Somerton, Donabate, Dublin, is suing the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) claiming it was negligent by failing to provide her with a safe system of work and with adequate training before the incident on March 31, 2009.

She also claims the DAA failed to heed or act on previous complaints about excessively heavy bags being brought by passengers through the security screening area.

The claims are denied.

The court heard that from time to time there were unusually heavy carry-on bags put on the conveyor, including those packed with chicken fillets and items of gold.

Carry-on bags are supposed to be 10kg or less but Ms Moore claims there was a failure to have an adequate system to restrict the weight of luggage.  She also says there was a  failure by the DAA to  provide a sufficient number of employees in the security area.

Ms Moore told the court she twisted her back as she tried to push the bag on the conveyor before realising it was excessively heavy.  The passenger was asked to remove the contents, which turned out to be some sort of engine parts, so they could be X-rayed.

While she continued on her shift that day, she later was unable to work for a period of time and the pain became progressively worse and remains so, it is claimed.

Mater Hospital A&E consultant, Eamonn Brazil, told the court that while surgical  intervention was not required, he hoped that with six months to a year of cognitive behavioural therapy she could get back to normal engagements.

One of Ms Moore's colleagues, Diane O'Carroll, who has since taken redundancy from the DAA, said at around the time of the incident, the situation at the security checkpoint was hectic.

Supervisors told staff to just "get the passengers through" especially after a system of fining airport authorities came in if passengers were delayed for more than 30 minutes at security, she said.

While the frequency of bags containing heavy items varied,  she had come across a bag packed with chicken fillets and another containing gold which had been obtained through "cash  for gold" schemes, she said.

Bags also started getting heavier when  Ryanair brought in charges for checked-in luggage, she said.

The hearing continues before Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O'Neill.

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