Bus firm owner pleads guilty over maintenance

The owner of an Offaly bus hire company has pleaded guilty to failing to maintain a school bus that was later involved in a fatal crash.

A charge that alleged the owner’s failure had caused the death of schoolboy Michael White, aged 15, has been dropped by the DPP.

The bus crashed outside Clara, Co Offaly, on Apr 4, 2006, when the back axle came away and the bus flipped. Michael died of his injuries.

The owners of Clara Cabs, Raymond and Ruairi McKeown, both of River St, Clara, had pleaded not guilty to six counts of failing to maintain the 1989 bus, two of which say this failure led to the death of the boy.

David O’Reilly, acting on behalf of O’Reilly Commercials Ltd of Ballinalack, Mullingar, Co Westmeath has pleaded not guilty to four charges relating to failing to note or verify defects when it tested the bus between Aug 5 and 6, 2005.

Yesterday, Raymond McKeown pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to failing to maintain the bus in a condition that was without risk to the health and welfare of people other than his employees.

He had pleaded not guilty to two other charges. The first was failing to maintain the bus in a safe condition, as a consequence of which Michael White suffered personal injuries and died.

The second was failing to maintain the bus in a condition safe and without risk to health and welfare of employees. Both these charges have been withdrawn.

Judge Margaret Heneghan told the jury that McKeown had pleaded guilty to one count and a nolle prosequi entered in relation to the remaining five. His case will be mentioned on Apr 8 next to set a sentencing date.

The judge said McKeown had been discharged from the indictment and the trial continues in relation to O’Reilly Commercials Limited and the four remaining counts today.


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