Haulier fined €1m over deaths of women
A Wexford haulage company has been fined €1 million for its involvement in a 2007 road traffic incident in which two women died.
Nolan Transport Ltd, based in New Ross, had pleaded guilty to failing to secure steel coils, weighing 25 tonnes, to one of its trucks carrying them. The coils struck two cars while a third vehicle was hit by the tractor unit of the lorry. Vanessa McGarry and Mary Lonergan died in the incident, which happened near Thomastown, Co Kilkenny.
Judge Raymond Fullam yesterday said the level of fault on the part of Nolan Transport Ltd amounted to “gross negligence”. He said it was one of the worst cases to go before Wexford Circuit Court.
The judge quoted from a victim impact statement from James McGarry, husband of Ms McGarry and former Kilkenny senior hurling star, in which he said Nolan Transport Ltd had shown no respect to his family: “They have never sympathised with our family and it’s taken them five years to apologise.”
In a statement managing director Patricia Nolan offered her sympathies to those who died and were injured in the incident.
Judge Fullam said that in mitigation the defendant pleaded guilty on December 18th, 2012, but he added that the guilty plea was only entered five years after the incident occurred.
“This saved the State some of the costs that accrue with a long case,” he said.
The judge also said two recent inspections carried out on the defendant company by Health and Safety Authority inspectors found that loads were inadequately secured.
The judge gave Nolan Transport Ltd three years to pay the fine saying he was mindful of the possible consequences for its “innocent employees” of the company if the fine was to be paid in one instalment.
He ordered that it be paid over the next three years with €400,000 due to be paid by December 31st, this year, and the balance paid over the following two years. The judge also ordered that costs and expenses of €70,000 be paid by the end of this year.
Martin O’Halloran, chief executive of the Health and Safety Authority, said the case showed how failure to secure loads could lead to tragedy.
“Failure to ensure loads are restrained and secured can lead them to become unstable while being transported. In this case, those failures lead to tragedy. Employers, vehicle owners, loading and unloading staff and drivers should be aware that they have responsibilities in this area,” he said in a statement.