Friday 22 November 2019

Mechanic wasn't asked about cracks on fatal bus, court hears

Declan Brennan

A HEALTH and safety inspector investigating a fatal school bus crash has told a court that he never questioned a mechanic about cracks in a back spring or a "missing bolt".

The bus crashed on a bog road just outside Clara, Co Offaly on April 4, 2006, when the back axle came away and the bus flipped over. Schoolboy Michael White (15) died as a result of the accident.

The owners of Clara Cabs, Raymond and Ruairi McKeown, both of River Street, Clara, have pleaded not guilty to six counts of failing to maintain the 1989 Mercedes bus, two of which relate to the death of the boy.

David O'Reilly, acting 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 they tested the bus between August 5 and 6, 2005.

John Sheeran, an inspector with the Health and Safety Authority, told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that David Fox was the only mechanic who had carried out repair work on the bus between 2003 and 2005.


In 2003, Mr Fox replaced the rear right spring with a second hand spring sourced by the former owner James Gaffey. In August 2005 Mr Gaffey presented the bus to David O'Reilly for a roadworthiness test and was provided with a "snag list".

The former owner sold the bus to the McKeowns after receiving a certificate of roadworthiness from O'Reilly Commercials Ltd in September 2005.

Insp Sheeran said that Mr Fox told him he had carried out repairs on the bus in August 2005 according to the snag list. He said Mr Fox said he couldn't remember if the rear suspension had been modified.

Kenneth Fogarty SC, defending Raymond McKeown, asked the inspector: "Did you ask him the crunch question, did he observe that there were cracks in the spring in August 2005?"

The witness said this wasn't why he was questioning Mr Fox.

Counsel later asked: "You didn't ask him did he see there were no bolts holding this thing? Is that a shame?"

Mr Sheeran replied: "I carried out the investigation as thorough as I could".

The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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