Offaly bus crash trial continues

The trial continues at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court today (Monday) in relation to a fatal bus crash in Clara in 2006.

The trial continues at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court today (Monday) in relation to a fatal bus crash in Clara in 2006.

On Friday a health and safety inspector investigating the 2006 fatal Offaly school bus crash has told a court that he didn’t question two garages which had previously examined the bus.

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. School boy Michael White (15) died as a result of “catastrophic injuries” suffered in the crash.

David O’Reilly, acting on behalf of O’Reilly Commercials Ltd of Ballinalack, Mullingar, Co Westmeath has pleaded not (NOT) guilty to four charges relating to failing to note or verify defects when they tested the bus between August 5 and 6, 2006.

The defects include a missing bolt and a fracture in the chassis.

The jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that the bus was tested and given a roadworthiness certificate by the Westmeath firm before being sold in September 2005 to Raymond and Ruairi McKeown of Clara Cabs, Clara.

Raymond McKeown told gardai that it was only used once before Christmas because the engine had overheated. He brought the bus to a garage and in January 2006 he took it to another garage in the area for a second opinion.

Defence counsel Diarmaid McGuinness SC asked Inspector John Sheehan if he had gone to these garages to ask about the condition of the bus.

The Health and Safety Authority inspector said he hadn’t and added that it hadn’t crossed his mind that the bus may have being involved in a separate crash.

Counsel asked him if he had noted inconsistencies between Mr McKeown’s statement and evidence from school children that Ruairi McKeown was driving the bus for about two weeks before Christmas.

He asked: “Is it the case that your investigation proceeded and concluded without ever getting a statement from Ruairi McKeown about the bus”?

Inspector Sheehan said this was true. He said he took Raymond McKeown at his word and didn’t suspect that he might be concealing matters about how much the bus was in use.

Counsel asked the inspector if the 5,000 miles clocked up between the DOE inspection in August 2005 and the crash in April 2006 caused him to wonder. Inspector Sheehan replied that he left that to the experts.

The court heard that the bus had no tax, insurance or PSV license when it crashed.

The trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court will continue on Monday before Judge Margaret Heneghan and a jury of ten men and two women