Court

'Amazing case' of dangerously defective minibus struck out

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Carrick-on Shannon man facing jail term if he re-offends

Carrick-on-Shannon Courthouse

A case of owning a dangerously defective minibus which was said to be in danger of “collapsing on the road” was struck out following the payment of €2,000 at Carrick-on- Shannon District Court last week.

Michael Coyle, Tully, Kilglass, Co Roscommon pleaded guilty to the offence which occurred at Cartown, Carrick-on-Shannon on February 15, 2019.

At a previous sitting of the court last October, Judge Kevin Kilrane expressed his amazement at how a minibus that was seized by Gardai and the Road Safety Authority could have a valid Commercial Vehicle Roadworthiness Test (CVRT) certificate issued just two days before the defendant purchased it, yet its undercarriage was “eaten alive by rust.”

Garda Declan Conway told the court on the last occasion that a joint operation was carried out by Gardai and the RSA of buses and minibuses bringing people to a youth disco at Cartown, Carrick-on- Shannon. A Ford Transit minibus with passengers from Strokestown was inspected and a number of dangerous defects were found on the vehicle and it was unsafe to drive.

Mr Coyle told the court last week that he has held a PSV licence for the past 23 years and was operating eight buses. He has now reduced that to three and has given away five school runs to other operators.

He said he has a system now in place where his buses are inspected every 13 weeks and he is working to re-finance in the new year and replace the existing buses with three newer ones.

Mr Coyle said the Department will only give him a one year PSV licence pending the outcome of this case. He said he had €2,000 cash with him in court and he gave an undertaking to do as he had outlined.

Sgt Michael Gallagher said the court noted on the last occasion it was very disappointed a certificate from a statutory state agency was issued to a vehicle which was dangerously defective.

Judge Kilrane described it as “an amazing case” and said the defendant bought the vehicle which had a valid CVRT test in August 2018.

He said those tests are extremely rigorous and they fail on the slightest difficulty if there is any problem.

Judge Kilrane said it was a puzzle that six months after it was tested it was stopped by the Gardai and the undercarriage was “absolutely eaten alive by rust.” He added, “I cannot see how that developed in six months, it appears to be longstanding.”

He said Garda enquiries to the test centre in Kilkenny in August 2018 were met with the data protection brick wall.

“It's a complete and utter puzzle. I'm satisfied it was substantially in that condition when it was tested,” he said, adding that in fairness to the defendant he relied on that test, as anyone would, when buying the vehicle.

He said the underside was “falling apart and in danger of collapsing on the road. It's a wonder it didn't.”

He said the Gardai did however indicate other matters the defendant knew or ought to have known about such as an excessively worn tyre and a defective brake.

Judge Kilrane said Mr Coyle was a hard working man in a difficult business who must make his living by the sweat of his brow.

He struck out the proceedings and directed that the sum of €2,000 be paid over to charity, indicating that it be divided into €500 each for St Vincent de Paul conferences in Carrick-on-Shannon, Ballinamore, Boyle and Mohill.