Verdict puts pressure on transport company to find cause of accident
THE driver of the bus which killed five people in Dublin three years ago was last night dramatically cleared of dangerous driving charges.
The verdict means the search for the cause of the Wellington Quay accident continues.
Kenneth Henvey (51) of Whitethorn Crescent, Palmerstown was comforted by his wife who broke into tears as the jury of eight men and four women delivered their not-guilty verdict after four hours of deliberation.
Mr Henvey had pleaded not guilty to causing the deaths of Kevin Garry, Kathleen Gilton, Margaret Traynor, Vasyl Tyminskyy, and Teresa Keatley by dangerous driving on February 21, 2004.
The families of the dead and injured, who have yet to receive an explanation for the cause of the accident from Dublin Bus, hurriedly left Dublin's Circuit Criminal Court without making any comment.
Dublin Bus, which faces a multi-million euro compensation bill arising from the worst accident in its history, last night said its board of inquiry will now meet to finalise its draft report on the accident.
The company said it will then consider whether to publish its findings.
"The accident that occurred at Wellington Quay was a tragic accident which has led to a great deal of loss and suffering for many people," the company said.
The eleven-day trial centred on conflicting claims that the accident was caused either by driver error or mechanical failure.
During the trial, two Bus Eireann bus drivers testified they had experienced "power surges" on a bus in Waterford. The trial was branded a fiasco late last week after it emerged that data from the Dublin Bus vehicle involved in the crash - which was used to dispute the theory that a power surge may have occurred - was mixed up with information from a more powerful coach.
Mr Henvey's legal team read a statement on his behalf following the verdict.
In it he said since the tragic event his thoughts had never been far from the victims and the families of those who lost their lives.
He said that as he struggled to understand the events of that day he prayed all involved had the strength to move forward and rebuild their lives.
Mr Henvey thanked those who had supported him, including his family, friends and colleagues.
Judge Michael White earlier told the jury it did not have to establish how the accident took place but decide the guilt or innocence of Mr Henvey.
Judge Michael White had earlier given the jury the option of finding Mr Henvey not guilty of dangerous driving causing death but guilty of the lesser offence of careless driving.
The verdict came of the 11th day of the trial in which the prosecution had called 52 witnesses including eyewitnesses, Dublin Bus employees and Volvo engineers.
The defence had called three witnesses including two Bus Eireann drivers who said they had experienced power surges on a bus in Waterford.
The jury heard a number 66 bus had pulled in some distance from the kerb at Wellington Quay in front of Mr Henvey's parked bus. A crowd of up to 30 people moved forward to board the bus when Mr Henvey's bus mounted the pavement and drove up the inside of the 66 hitting the people waiting to board it.
The jury heard that when the bus stopped Mr Henvey put his head in his hands and began sobbing saying "this can't be happening".
Patrick Gageby SC, defending, said that, to convict, the jury would have to go beyond reasonable doubt and find the incident was a result of pure driver error.
He said that to do this the jury would have to accept the technical data which the prosecution said indicated there was no power surge.
During the trial it was revealed that technical information relied upon by the prosecution was completely inaccurate as the result of a mix up by a Swedish Volvo engineer and new data was presented to the jury
Last night Volvo Bus Ltd, the makers of the bus driven by Mr Henvey, expressed the company's 'heartfelt sympathy' to the relatives and friends of the victims in the case.
In a brief, three-line statement, Volvo apologised unreservedly for the errors in its part of the evidence.
Dearbhail McDonald and Bronagh Murphy