Tuesday 16 January 2018

Vehicle testing firm is fined €25,000 over school bus crash in which pupil (15) died

Michael and Martina White, the parents of 15-year-old schoolboy Michael who was killed in the April 2006 bus crash, speak to the media outside Dublin Circuit Criminal Court after the verdict
Michael and Martina White, the parents of 15-year-old schoolboy Michael who was killed in the April 2006 bus crash, speak to the media outside Dublin Circuit Criminal Court after the verdict

Conor Gallagher and Declan Brennan

A VEHICLE testing firm has been fined €25,000 after being convicted of breaching health and safety law relating to a school bus involved in a fatal crash.

However, a stay was put on payment of the fine by Judge Margaret Heneghan pending an appeal by the testing firm, O'Reilly Commercials Ltd.

The firm had failed to note the modified rear suspension prior to the crash – a modification that had earlier been the subject of a recall. The bus went out of control outside Clara, Co Offaly, on April 4, 2006 after the rear drive axle came off. A number of the children travelling to school were injured and Michael White (15) died as a result of his "catastrophic injuries".

At Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Heneghan imposed the fine after being told the firm has sufficient means to pay.

O'Reilly Commercials' defence counsel said they would be applying for costs to be paid by the State as they had successfully defended themselves against two of the three counts.

David O'Reilly, on behalf of the firm, of Ballinalach, Co Westmeath, had pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to four charges of breaching health and safety laws when carrying out a test on the 1989 bus between August 5 and 6, 2005.

After a 23-day trial, the jury returned a verdict of guilty on the first count, of failing to note the modified suspension; not guilty of failing to verify it as safe; and it was also acquitted of failing to note a missing bolt and failing to note a chassis fracture.A bolt missing from the right side of the rear suspension system led to fatigue fractures, ultimately resulting in both sides of the suspension failing and the drive axle separating.Speaking outside the court the schoolboy's father Michael White said: "This won't change anything for us, or bring Michael back.

"But we feel that it is important for both of us, Michael's family and other children who were on the bus that those responsible were held accountable."

Irish Independent

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