Widow critical of fine on company after death

Penalty of €125,000 imposed on firm

 Paul and Frances Farrell. Photograph: Ciara Wilkinson.

Paul and Frances Farrell. Photograph: Ciara Wilkinson.


The widow of a father of three killed when he went into a carbon dioxide-filled pit has criticised the €125,000 fine imposed on the grain company he was working for.

On the steps of Dundalk Circuit Court yesterday, Frances Farrell said: “I am quite annoyed at the fine. I know no amount of money would ever bring Paul back but I think they got off a bit lightly. My husband’s gone and we can never get him home.”

Paul Farrell (34) worked full time at Drummonds Ltd grain plant in Knockbridge, Co Louth. He d died in the elevator pit on August 10th, 2009. Terry Brennan (19), who had a summer job there, also died in the incident.

It was investigated by the Health and Safety Authority and earlier this year the company pleaded guilty to a single offence of failing to discharge the duty of an employer under the Health, Safety and Welfare at Work Act.

The court heard the company manager had found both men lying on the ground in the elevator pit. The health and safety authority found the pit should have not been entered without breathing apparatus as it was depleted of oxygen.

Judge Michael O’Shea said a warning device would have been a “proper precaution and system” for the men and instead they were exposed to excessive levels of carbon dioxide.

He told the families that a fine could not reflect the loss they had suffered. He imposed a fine of €125,000 plus expenses of €19,600.

Ms Farrell told the court that he had been her “whole world, my soul-mate and my human crutch”. Their children Dillon (12), Adam (5) and Corey (3) missed him “all the time”.

The mother of Terry Brennan, Frances, in her victim impact statement told the court: “This was an accident that could have been prevented but due to reckless management and negligence our son is dead.”